Failure and I Bury the Body
Selected for the National Poetry Series
Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Award
Named a "Top Ten Debut Book" of 2013 by Poets & Writers
What People Are Saying:
With Failure and I Bury the Body Sasha West offers us a book that is utterly unprecedented, visionary, disturbing, beautiful, compelling—here we are being offered a chance to actually occupy this moment that we find ourselves in, what we used to call the future. Here it is.
It's a thrill to find poetry large enough to confront the vise in which we find ourselves in the twenty-first century. Sasha West's work has that scope, that immediacy. Failure and I Bury the Body unfolds with the forward motion and wide horizon of myth. I thought of a visceral Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight for the age of storms--a redemptive journey into the desert, to the ruins of the future. The quest here is bitterly American: we speed down a highway "like fire/running down a fuse," evil is dominion over the beasts of the field. I admire this book's searing edge, human stakes, and vision of "the body's wildness."
Sasha West has written a book of visionary enchantment and dystopic terror. If she foresees the end of the world, the language itself is always hard-edged, inventive, and under control. These poems are as much fables of the end of our civilization as they are fables of the self. I can think of no one in her generation who has taken on a more difficult subject, treated it with such passion and intelligence, and given so much linguistic pleasure.
Sasha West is an artist with a shovel. I want to say that her Whitmanesque lines dig a long way and relentlessly into the underbelly of America. But the grief in this book, the way its poems attend to the past as a truth always present, leads me to believe that there is more to her craft than the MFA tradition of comparing mineral to ore. Here is a poet willing to admit, “I did not know where to put the dead man’s body/so I…buried him here/in the back of my head…” This stunning debut is an example of why writers call writing good, honest, hard work.
Sasha West writes about the endgame of having lived and loved and sparkles with one of the most unique voices to come center stage upon the literary scene.
--Washington Independent Review of Books (Grace Cavalieri)
Quirky and otherworldly, these poems are smart and dark, at times humorous, but also consistently aware. It’s this awareness that heightens the reader’s attention and compels us to read, the knowledge that we are not immune to visits from those we have lost and journeys with our failures. Ambitious in its scope and imagination, Failure and I Bury the Body successfully catalogues moments on a strange and surreal journey that remind us that despite Failure’s imminence we have opportunities to persevere and press forward. As one speaker so eloquently suggests in the poem “Remade”: “We have made peace with it, with the world / Failure who at night is a corpse made of bees / We will look for new earth to plant.”
--Green Mountains Review (Gina Keicher)