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Devil's Lake

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What does it mean to claim your space in a world that’s ending? Sarah Sala’s Devil’s Lake breaks open the American moment of unchecked gun violence, climate changes, and the growing rift between "us" and "them" with formal daring. Within the rich, emotional cartography of these poems, we witness an anxious teacher fixated on the possibility of school shooting, erasures of What does it mean to claim your space in a world that’s ending? Sarah Sala’s Devil’s Lake breaks open the American moment of unchecked gun violence, climate changes, and the growing rift between "us" and "them" with formal daring. Within the rich, emotional cartography of these poems, we witness an anxious teacher fixated on the possibility of school shooting, erasures of a homophobic letter, an account of the 1988 murder of Rebecca Wight along the Appalachian Trail, and myriad other moments both personal and political, elemental and ephemeral. Like a prism, this startling debut fractures into shades of possibility and memory, queering science, nature, and form to lay bare the colors of joy despite a world that seems intent on its destruction. Praise for Devil's Lake: Devil's Lake ripples with formal invention as Sarah Sala finds ways to talk about love. Her images are unadorned, her style telegraphic and surreal as she contends with the violences that endanger women and women's desire for each other. There's a dream logic at work in these restrained cries. In a poem that opens with domestic tenderness and makes a sudden swerve into unspeakable violence, the speaker ends by saying "The human heart weighs only as much as a can of Coke," a simile both ironic and visceral that captures here— as elsewhere in this vital debut— the cold heavy pressure of our contemporary moment. --Catherine Barnett, author of Human Hours It is so hard to stop reading these poems for all of their astonishing courage and beauty. Sarah Sala knows how to take the small gifts of our lives and fuse them together until we cannot believe the abundance! I am changed and very grateful to the poet. Devil's Lake shook me awake! --CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death These poems have a particular music to them: a queerness and, also, a force that is deeply ethical and erotic. If there is an end then “at the end of the world, there is only/ whom you loved, and how you treated them.” For all of the forces arrayed against a “plush feeling of domesticity, that infinite fish turning inside,” the love described in Devil’s Lake is intent on continuing. That love, that sense of home, shimmers on every surface of this collection, even the most painful. --Julia Guez, author of In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame


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What does it mean to claim your space in a world that’s ending? Sarah Sala’s Devil’s Lake breaks open the American moment of unchecked gun violence, climate changes, and the growing rift between "us" and "them" with formal daring. Within the rich, emotional cartography of these poems, we witness an anxious teacher fixated on the possibility of school shooting, erasures of What does it mean to claim your space in a world that’s ending? Sarah Sala’s Devil’s Lake breaks open the American moment of unchecked gun violence, climate changes, and the growing rift between "us" and "them" with formal daring. Within the rich, emotional cartography of these poems, we witness an anxious teacher fixated on the possibility of school shooting, erasures of a homophobic letter, an account of the 1988 murder of Rebecca Wight along the Appalachian Trail, and myriad other moments both personal and political, elemental and ephemeral. Like a prism, this startling debut fractures into shades of possibility and memory, queering science, nature, and form to lay bare the colors of joy despite a world that seems intent on its destruction. Praise for Devil's Lake: Devil's Lake ripples with formal invention as Sarah Sala finds ways to talk about love. Her images are unadorned, her style telegraphic and surreal as she contends with the violences that endanger women and women's desire for each other. There's a dream logic at work in these restrained cries. In a poem that opens with domestic tenderness and makes a sudden swerve into unspeakable violence, the speaker ends by saying "The human heart weighs only as much as a can of Coke," a simile both ironic and visceral that captures here— as elsewhere in this vital debut— the cold heavy pressure of our contemporary moment. --Catherine Barnett, author of Human Hours It is so hard to stop reading these poems for all of their astonishing courage and beauty. Sarah Sala knows how to take the small gifts of our lives and fuse them together until we cannot believe the abundance! I am changed and very grateful to the poet. Devil's Lake shook me awake! --CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death These poems have a particular music to them: a queerness and, also, a force that is deeply ethical and erotic. If there is an end then “at the end of the world, there is only/ whom you loved, and how you treated them.” For all of the forces arrayed against a “plush feeling of domesticity, that infinite fish turning inside,” the love described in Devil’s Lake is intent on continuing. That love, that sense of home, shimmers on every surface of this collection, even the most painful. --Julia Guez, author of In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame

37 review for Devil's Lake

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rowan

    I'm not sure how to rate this book. It really did nothing for me, but it also was not bad. I picked this book up on a whim because I absolutely love poetry and find it (most of the time) very inspiring! The description also said that this book contained 'queering science', which was extremely intriguing to me. However, it all just seemed a little flat for me. It did not arouse any emotion within me, I could not connect with any of the poems, and in the end I was left a little confused. I would li I'm not sure how to rate this book. It really did nothing for me, but it also was not bad. I picked this book up on a whim because I absolutely love poetry and find it (most of the time) very inspiring! The description also said that this book contained 'queering science', which was extremely intriguing to me. However, it all just seemed a little flat for me. It did not arouse any emotion within me, I could not connect with any of the poems, and in the end I was left a little confused. I would like to mention that I read this from my Kindle app, so maybe the text was a little messed up or something, but the formation of the writing was super confusing. I had no idea where one poem started and the next stopped. I understand that this may be something only on the Kindle app, however if it is not I think the format of it all was pretty weird. Now, why did I give this 3 starts and not rate it lower? Well, that's because this book was not for me but I know other people could absolutely love it! I feel bad rating poetry because it can be super confusing and not relatable to one person and really inspiring and enjoyable to another. This was just one book I could not connect with, but that was not the authors fault at all, which is why I gave this 3 stars and not a lower rating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Juju Rodriguez

    I really enjoyed this poetry collection. Full transparency, I'm a poetry snob and super picky about poetry I read. Going into "Devil's Lake" I knew nothing and didn't know what to expect but what I got was so much more than what I could have expected. Sala does an amazing job composing complex, storytelling poems that need a few reads to fully understand that many layers and the depth in each piece. I am a huge fan of the many different styles used throughout the book, it kept the reading experi I really enjoyed this poetry collection. Full transparency, I'm a poetry snob and super picky about poetry I read. Going into "Devil's Lake" I knew nothing and didn't know what to expect but what I got was so much more than what I could have expected. Sala does an amazing job composing complex, storytelling poems that need a few reads to fully understand that many layers and the depth in each piece. I am a huge fan of the many different styles used throughout the book, it kept the reading experience fresh. The poems were raw, emotional, complex, and queer. I truly enjoyed this collection and I want to add a physical copy to my collection asap! Thank you to NetGalley and Tolsun Books for providing me with an e-arc "Devil's Lake" by Sarah M. Sala in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sydnëy Maë

    2/5 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wordsborn

    This is a book of poems: poems I understood, peoms I didn't, poems that made me give a strange look and poems that made me stare at a wall. Rating this book was difficult because I have mixed feelings. On the surface, I can't see any change this book did to me. But deep down, I know it's activated a cold volcano. The words used really worked out in some poems but some of them seemed way too personal and as a reader, they just came to me as something that wasn't meant for me. But I actually liked This is a book of poems: poems I understood, peoms I didn't, poems that made me give a strange look and poems that made me stare at a wall. Rating this book was difficult because I have mixed feelings. On the surface, I can't see any change this book did to me. But deep down, I know it's activated a cold volcano. The words used really worked out in some poems but some of them seemed way too personal and as a reader, they just came to me as something that wasn't meant for me. But I actually liked it because even though the poems didn't feel like they were written for the reader, I still took away something from them. I refuse to believe that the author didn't do this intentionally. For someone who rarely reads and enjoys poetry, Devil's Lake was a good book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    I liked the first and the third parts. When the author says that she wants "to be the poem, not the poet" I understood her so much! I thought it was a beautiful way of expressing the feeling. I felt mesmerized with the poetic language and the rhythm! I also liked the fragments from the blackmail letters. That is a way of subverting violence and bigotry, and the type of poetic experiment that I love. to encounter. It is also playful, from my point of view, and adds levity and a smile to experience I liked the first and the third parts. When the author says that she wants "to be the poem, not the poet" I understood her so much! I thought it was a beautiful way of expressing the feeling. I felt mesmerized with the poetic language and the rhythm! I also liked the fragments from the blackmail letters. That is a way of subverting violence and bigotry, and the type of poetic experiment that I love. to encounter. It is also playful, from my point of view, and adds levity and a smile to experiences that may be grusome. It must have required an excellent editor to re-create the whole experience, so kudos to the publishing house, Tolsun Publishing, for taking the time and effort to present it so well in this book. At some point the authors speaks about losing a job and being happy about it. That's another experience I can also identify with., I liked how she mixes her personal experiences -those she wants to mention- with the poetic feelings and the social criticism.. She also mentions a historical fact which took palce in the Appalachians' Trail. I had already heard about it because, (what a coincidence!), I finished reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods two weeks ago and he mentions this very same event. I liked the reference to this ourtrageous event. It was sheer luck that I knew what it was about so I didn't have to google it up! I liked the way she treats the matter as well. A cold case whose file has never been properly closed and that now it has sadly become part of the history of their (the poet and the victims') country, the USA. Where the book lost me is in the non-sensical un-readable words. If the poet wanted to express the breakdown in human communication, congratulations, she's succeeded! The only thing I can say about it is that I felt that the "asdfsdfa" was based on the words sad and fast, which created a sad emotion on me..I may be mistaken and it is not based on those words at all, but I didn't understand it and I didn't like it at all.. James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake lost me on page one, and Sarah M. Sala has lost me in this part. I will recommend it. The positive points outdo the negative for sure. There is a part in the middle that I didn't like.but the rest was the type of meaningful, expressive free verse that I usually like. Congrats to the poet! https://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    paula (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

    Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. This is a book that is kind of hard to follow. I struggled to do so. It had science references at moments and hard words that i didn't understand being English my second language. After i got comfortable with the author's writing style and had opened a dictionary it went smoother but still its really hard to understand some of the poems so beware when you start reading the book that you need to be familiar wit Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. This is a book that is kind of hard to follow. I struggled to do so. It had science references at moments and hard words that i didn't understand being English my second language. After i got comfortable with the author's writing style and had opened a dictionary it went smoother but still its really hard to understand some of the poems so beware when you start reading the book that you need to be familiar with poetry. I am gonna be honest and say that there were poems i did not enjoy. However, some of them made me cry. The topics vary from science to sexuality to harsher themes such as shootings and an attack agiants two girls that left one of them dead. I did enjoy the book but i wasn't ready for the difficulty it had so i didn't enjoy it as much as i could. Still, iw ould highly recommend it to people qho like poetry, it is worth it i swear. Trigger Warnings: murder, homophobia, animal abuse, shootings, hate crimes. 3,75

  7. 4 out of 5

    grace

    There were a handful of poems I enjoyed from this book, but it left no lasting impact overall. I'm fairly new to the world of poetry, so it could be that this collection just isn't for me, but there was nothing that resonated very strongly in this. "Nature Poem" and the letter erasures were both the most creative and my favorite works from this book, and I didn't mind the variety of form throughout. Sala's style is pared back and concrete, and her collection reads at times like a memoir. I gave There were a handful of poems I enjoyed from this book, but it left no lasting impact overall. I'm fairly new to the world of poetry, so it could be that this collection just isn't for me, but there was nothing that resonated very strongly in this. "Nature Poem" and the letter erasures were both the most creative and my favorite works from this book, and I didn't mind the variety of form throughout. Sala's style is pared back and concrete, and her collection reads at times like a memoir. I gave this 3/5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    I received this book on NetGalley, and I didn't really know what to expect. I enjoyed the poetry and the way the author told layered stories through them some of the poems hit harder than others, and overall, it was okay. Nothing necessarily wrong with this book, but poetry has to consistently resonate with me for me to truly enjoy it fully.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC! this poetry book was so unique. i think this is the first time i've seen a keysmash used as a poem method and actually enjoyed the result. the poems were blunt and brute and i loved that about them. i always love when a collection explores queer identities, and this one definitely delivered. i enjoyed this so much!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Devil's Lake is an incredible short poetry book full of powerful and moving work. With a heavy emphasis on female/female relationships and queerness, this is a poetry book that will find a place amongst the lesbian poetry greats. This poetry book is about more than lady love through, it deals with a variety of concepts including gun violence. The poems are raw, real, and very relevant to today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Deynne Craves Pages

    Before I start this review for this poetry collection, I was hooked that it's dedicated to queerness. And I was sold. I have had difficulties in loading this book in my reader. Letters were large that made me not understand the concept and I wasn't able to determine what is it all about.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Hazen

    Powerful raw and real life problem poems. Highly recommend. Quick read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Woolfish_Wonders

    An journey of abstract thoughts about science, sexuality and painful memories.. At first, Devil's Lake may appear as an intimidating book to the poetry uninitiated. With multiple variants of poems and one style morphing into the next, the poetry at first can seem hard to follow, especially given the tendency for one poem to merge into another on the same page with only the title above it to at times tell the reader it's time to move on. This may cause difficulties for some and confusion for other An journey of abstract thoughts about science, sexuality and painful memories.. At first, Devil's Lake may appear as an intimidating book to the poetry uninitiated. With multiple variants of poems and one style morphing into the next, the poetry at first can seem hard to follow, especially given the tendency for one poem to merge into another on the same page with only the title above it to at times tell the reader it's time to move on. This may cause difficulties for some and confusion for others (myself included on initial reading. However, this is a book which deserves to be kept with, its poems slowly read and reread and digested. Because, under the initial confusion are many splendid poems, capturing the joy and heartbreak of sexuality and love, the curiosity of science, nature and the world around and above us. Harrowing and unforgiving poems about school shootings and the tragic case of two women murdered in their tent. In my opinion, due to the above, this would not be a recommended first step for people completely new to poetry due to the layout and some of the more abstract themes within the poems. However for people with more experience or with an appetite for something more to their poems, this is a worthwhile read. This book is recommended for more experienced poetry lovers with an interest in poems about sexuality, science and the shocking horrors in our world or new poetry lovers who want exposure to more advanced poetry.. Content warnings: discussions on racism and school shootings, murder, homophobia, animal abuse (Review originally posted on Net Gallery as feedback on the ARC available in 2020. Also posted to my Goodreads page [https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1...])

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shannon O'Connor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Felix

  19. 4 out of 5

    Margarita Cruz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tripp

  22. 4 out of 5

    C. Quintana

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Ignell

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Furtado

  26. 5 out of 5

    Avni

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jihyun Yun

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

  29. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Jones

  31. 5 out of 5

    Emma Buchanan

  32. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

  33. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Waters

  34. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  35. 5 out of 5

    Monica H.

  36. 5 out of 5

    Alyazia

  37. 5 out of 5

    Flower Conroy

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