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Literature & Fiction - Poetry New Titles

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The Body Problem

ISBN: 9781949039405
Binding: Paperback
Author: Margaret Wack
Pages: 44
Trim: 7 x 9 inches
Published: 03/07/2023

The voice in Margaret Wack's remarkable debut chapbook is drenched in myth but also with the knowledge that all myths must fade in time, like every body, like every culture—like humanity itself. In The Body Problem, winner of The 2021 Orison Chapbook Prize, a vatic magnetism pulls the reader in as these poems reckon with impermanence and the impending end of the Anthropocene, but also unapologetically revel in the numinous viscerality of each present moment, insisting on making new songs to the end.


Margaret Wack's work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including EcoTheo Review, Ruminate, Passages North, Grist, Arion, Strange Horizons, Climbing Lightly Through Forests: A Poetry Anthology Honoring Ursula K. Le Guin, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from Smith College and an interdisciplinary master's degree from St. John's College.


"Visceral, vivid, voracious—what struck me most in Margaret Wack's stunningly lush The Body Problem is how organic it is. Organic in the way of the densest heart of an old growth forest, where green bubbles up from decay and wood sinks into soil in a relentless cycle of wild abundance. 'You must be born each instant and rot each hour,' Wack declares as her images build on themselves like amino acids, proliferate like cells, and transform like 'flowers of fungi will bloom upon your bones.'" - Erin Rodoni

"The Body Problem is a field guide to a world fluttering between promise and ruin, where ripeness is always turning the corner into rot. There is too much to harvest, too much to hunger for. Like Tantalus, we reach and reach, but 'cannot possibly close our hands upon the sweetness of it.' And the problem with time is that there is never enough of it. The problem with the body is that it will inevitably 'rot like a peony, over-plump and full of starving ants.' So be it. If these poems feel timely right now—if it feels like the world is pulsing with losses beyond calculation—Wack reminds us that some problems are timeless. We are no more or less cursed than we've ever been, no more or less desperate for beauty or survival. We steady ourselves with myth, and we will become the myths that steady whoever comes next." - Claire Wahmanholm

"The Body Problem comes 'caught on the edge / of a new century like a colt on its raw legs in the first darkness.' Margaret Wack has given us a work in which love and instinct offer return from the letdowns of what we've been calling enlightenment. Reading this book means realizing you've had 'your back pressed up against the world,' the same world we've learned to 'navigate by touch alone.' Like the rain the poet's speaker describes, The Body Problem won't clean you of yourself, but offers a world swallowed in its own thick atmosphere." - C. T. Salazar