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Winter: Effulgences and Devotions

by Sarah Vap




In Winter: Effulgences and Devotions, Sarah Vap documents the obstacles to writing a single poem over a twelve-year period. Her account becomes a confrontation with the insidious, radiating, pliant character of late capitalism. She encounters it as a rootless system, an airborne contagion, a toxin in the walls of our homes. Pursuing her distractions across the years, Vap makes certain commitments: to remember the wars that her country is waging, which are meant to be invisible to her; to mourn the deaths of whales by sonar; to hear though she is deaf; to be present for the loss of winter, as she knows it, from earth; and to herself, a profane and multifarious creature who possibly has a soul. Reeling from the nonstop “competition” that sustains the anthropocene’s profiteers, Vap offers an unapologetic case study of encroachment, susceptibility, tenderness, porousness and endurance.

About the Author

Sarah Vap grew up in Missoula, Montana. She attended Brown University, where she studied English and American Literature. She received her MFA from Arizona State University, and is completing her PhD at the University of Southern California. Vap is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first book, Dummy Fire, was selected by Forrest Gander to receive the Saturnalia Poetry Prize. Her second, American Spikenard, was selected by Ira Sadoff to receive the Iowa Poetry Prize. Her third book, Faulkner’s Rosary, was released by Saturnalia Books in 2010. Her fourth book, Arco Iris (Saturnalia, 2012) was named a Library Journal Best Book of 2012. She was a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Poetry.

Winter: Effulgences and Devotions


The world is ending; or the world is always ending; or the worlds within the world are continually ending: this is what Sarah Vap’s Winter so hauntingly teaches. Winter is a deep and arresting disclosure of interruption, rupture, and letting go. The world does not put itself back together again; the ending resists. In haunting and shifting and vibrant prose, Vap displays what it is to be interrupted, to see the thing one loves slowly and suddenly go out of the world. To read Winter is to tread deep and deeper and deeper still into a terrifying yet sublime vortex.

Jenny Boully

Winter is a book of thrilling beauty. Pain. Curiosity. Intimacy. Motherhood. Death. Ecstatic joy. Violence and resistance to violence. Above all, or at the center of all, the maternal body, and “the astonishing porousness that motherhood has created.”  Around her, the awesome and awful and endangered world, in language slick as ice melting, fluid as milk straight from the nursing animal. Sarah Vap is one of the finest and fiercest writers of her generation.

Alicia Ostriker