Almonds are Members of the Peach Family

Stephanie Sauer

Stephanie Sauer is an interdisciplinary artist and author of The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force (University of Texas Press). She has earned the Barbara Deming Award for Nonfiction, So to Speak’s Hybrid Book Award, and fellowships from Yaddo and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her work has been exhibited at the De Young Museum, NYC’s Center for Book Arts, and National Library of Baghdad, and has appeared in Drunken Boat, Asymptote, PRISM International, and Verse Daily. She is founding editor of Copilot Press and teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute.

About Almonds are Members fo the Peach Family:

Almonds are Members of the Peach Family looks at the ways humans process violence, history, identity, and intergenerational trauma. Centering upon the making of a crazy quilt, it weaves together oral history, public record, images, scientific findings, diary entries, statistical data, and memory with few sutures.

Imagine air composed of salt and the opposite of salt: someone who can no longer excrete, weep, kiss, or vomit. Who is dead? “The air is composed of saline and the once living,” writes Stephanie Sauer, writing the brink-verge of an impossible city, a city (Rio) that “has no regard for survival.” Entering the work through this magnetizing and umcompromising “day,” the book’s morning or start, the reader is soon breathing night: Judith Herman’s concept of trauma, of what it will take to recover ideals of family or psychological life in the time that follows an atrocity; the “bruised little girl flesh,” and the encroaching violence of an authoratarian regime. Almonds Are Members of the Peach Family is adept at turning this narrative over to show us the “back-stitch,” the parts of living like this (with others) that we rarely get to see. I was very touched by Sauer’s precision and sweetness as she decocts the lineage story of the grandmother, in particular. The weight and sorrow of elegy are performed in a non-dominant verse that has enough space in it for other worlds, other languages and new sounds. Because: “I am unable to fill in the ligaments. I am working with bones and a superficial filling would be untrue.” There’s information, here, about what it would take to discharge something long held or contained in somatic memory. Tell the truth about what happened to the body, this book seems to say. Tell the truth about the time in which the body got to be a body, and make it real. All of this feels like brave and vital work for a poet to be attending to. Stephanie Sauer has written an important book. 

Bhanu Kapil

Stephanie Sauer’s Almonds Are Members of the Peach Family, is an immaculate meditation in prose, masterfully and poetically aligned. Examining cases from domestic abuse, to national (in)security, to cultural and familial traditions and stigmas, Sauer’s triangulation of histories, theories, and experience revalorizes the overlooked revolutions charged by women in both public and private spaces. Her cadence and distillation of evolution is measured out and noted by the pricking of time as fabric, the ache of the hands and heart at work, the sonorous hum of thread pulled when one thing is stitched to another: this body, that body.  This is a time capsule, a manifesto—at once unraveling and embodying the weight and force of a woman at work.

Laurie Ann Guerrero

$18 Paperback | Publication Date Nov. 15, 2019
ISBN 978-1-934819-85-2