A Marxist feminist epic
Atopia grapples with the political climate of the United States manifested through our everyday lives. Sandra Simonds charts the formations and deformations of the social and political through the observations of the poem's speakers, interspersed with the language of social media, news reports, political speech, and the dialogue of friends, children, strangers, and politicians. The Los Angeles Review of Books characterized Simonds's work as "robust, energetic, fanciful, even baroque" and "a necessary counterforce to the structures of gender, power, and labor that impinge upon contemporary life." These poems reflect on what it means to be human, what it means to build communities within a political structure it also opposes.
Tallahassee. Tallahassee. Tallahassee.
Your mist today is incredible
as it settles on this rose garden!
When the largest rose shook off its dew
and looked at me like a cartoon, I smiled back
and promised not to break his neck.
And here we are together again, walking in a park
that honors dead children. A tree planted for each child
on such a mild day in December. And how the dead
children stream through me, scrolls of them:
Lily! Rose! Bobby!
Kierkegaard says anyone who follows through
on an idea becomes unpopular. And also
that a person needs a system, otherwise you
become mere personality. He must not have
known very many poets, so prone to tyrannical
shifts in mood. Change in the weather is equal to
don't let me go crazy. In the car on the way
to school Charlotte says, "I like to be gentle
with nature because I like nature."
But my mind wouldn't rest, system-less,
as I drive through dread:
Lily! Rose! Bobby!
You're dead, you're dead
When you think about it, mostly, a cage is air— • Night is the insane asylum of plants—Raul Zurita • Wanderers, servants, maids, slaves, baristas, singing • Feel the pain that grows • Look at the people we have on our side: • The rooster of Midtown cockadoodledoos, • First National Women's Liberation meeting • Man in neon coat walks uphill through the crows. • I rise before everyone, kids at their dad's. • See, the thing is, Poet, you're failing. • A series of demons dressed as birches • To scroll past the body of the dead baby, • The managerial class will punish us • This is where they plant cheap pine. • Speculative cobwebs embroidered with flowers. • That hail is rare in South Georgia • Tallahassee. Tallahassee. Tallahassee. • The madness set in as coral reefs bleached. • Inside encrypted eternity robots store my rosy data • The little gothic market • I'm so angry I will • Dear Jorge de Sena, • (after Jack Spicer) • Psychedelic as thoughts of suicide • You mistook the clarinet for the flute, • I stand in the middle of the Library of Congress. • It's going to hurt • Dear Jack Spicer, • The Garden Of Eden • A new obsession. How to get out • In Shalimar, Florida, at night, inside the doom palms, • Found a tulip- • —pulled away from internet absorption • Spring proliferation of rain and cops. • Behind the Four Rivers Smokehouse, • "It was a beautiful spring day," • At the zoo today, the carnivalesque • The stained-glass of the ruined church • "Everything is terrible." • Back at the zoo • It's May. Don't you think the birds • There was this bear cam • Today, something about the Russians. • Got off plane, dropped cellphone in parking lot • She steps into La Roue de Fortune movie theatre • Last night, the wolf mother gave birth. • After bath time, Charlotte and I watch • "World events are not ruled by mercy," • What if one of the wolf pups die? • A troll army from the Czech Republic • The political necessity of cruelty • Read of an ICE raid: • I like to photograph old signs • Glandular fever punctuated by tropical storm Cindy which • My friend made a song called, "Nikki, the Sun is Out • Blue mechanism of midwinter, • The host "does not care for poetry," • My whole life, I was a poet • Is it heaven? Is it Utah? Is it the ceremony? • Maybe we could write a ballad • Healthcare gone • Write "ruin" Write "trauma" Write • The war is armed with affect • Our masters shift; this is the definition • The nonsense of plant life is a verdant push. • Permission slip signed for kids to see the eclipse • Reader, at what point • Much that is Lovely May be Voiced
"Atopia speaks to the events of our time, brutal and unafraid."~Dorothea Lasky, author of Milk
"The driving force of Atopia is how to carry on living while surrounded by all this fear—of capitalism, fascism, misogyny, bigotry, climate change, and internalized self-hatred and defeat. I can think of nothing more present and urgent than an interrogation of the paradoxAtopia is a much needed epic poem that I was hungry to devour."~Anne Barngrover, author of Brazen Creature
"A friend told me poets are maladjusted souls. Whatever! We have Sandra Simonds on our side, and this new book Atopia is something to give ourselves some proper maladjustments! Here is a poet I can easily imagine from the audience of Plato's speeches about how great slavery is for the Republic, telling the old man how lousy his governing ideas are, having Plato threaten to exile her from the city limits. This book rules my bookshelf! This book is a breastplate against weapons of enemies of the beautiful truth of this breathtaking world!"~CA Conrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death
"Simonds is a poet of the re-calibrated, gendered, anti-racist and anti-capitalist epic. She's a Whitmanian American for the present, clear-eyed and vengeful, expansive enough for multitudinous catastrophe. These poems are full-throated exemplars of poetry's power, rising into the highest lyric incantation and outcry."~Lindsay Turner, author of Songs & Ballads
"Simonds paints a careful portrait of the struggle to embrace difficult realities in an age in which it would be irresponsible to ignore them, even if doing so offers no easy path forward."~Publishers Weekly
"Sandra Simonds's new book of poems, 'Atopia,' sent me in search of her earlier work."~New York Times
"An epic consecrating empire's end, rather than its origins, this book-length poem sings of the absurdities, inanities, and injustices that pervade modern life. Fevered and philosophical, Simonds's fierce lyric rages against capitalism and patriarchy for stifling compassion and collective imaginationEclectic diction and a fluid use of form evince a restless mind that refuses to compartmentalize or to be contained."~The New Yorker
"Atopia writes out optimism, pessimism, exhaustion and potential action, writing around the potential, as well as the failure, of poetry, theory and art on political and social change"~Rob McLennan