REVIEW: SPACE STRUCK – PAIGE LEWIS (SARABANDE BOOKS)

I know it isn’t always about suffering, so send
us a good flood. Deliver a nectar that will soften
fists and lift these red stains from our doorframes.

from “I’ve Been Trying to Feel Bad for Everyone”

Paige Lewis bursts onto the scene with their debut collection, Space Struck, from Sarabande Books, proliferating the page with breathtaking images and turns of phrase that routinely render the reader speechless.

Confession: this review will not be objective. It cannot be. I had never read Lewis’ work prior to this book, and I’m an instant fan. I will read everything they write from here on out without question or hesitation. That’s how good this book is, so good that even selecting an excerpt to lead with took the better part of a day because I lost myself in the poems again and again and again.

Lewis writes with the immediacy and tenderness of Ilya Kaminsky, the wit and sharpness of Franny Choi, the technicality and precision of Sylvia Plath. The blend is, at times, stupefyingly brilliant. The author demonstrates a masterful balance of simple language and artful phrasing: “…take my advice and stop asking for men’s//forgiveness. It’s a dangerous demonstration./If you offer a sorry mouth, they’ll break it,” they write in “God’s Secretary, Overworked.”

The subtle lead-in to the last three words make them all the more powerful. In fact, some of Lewis’ strongest elements are their titles, which are themselves often incredibly nuanced and poetic lines, and their closing phrases. With this collection, I set the book down often, both momentarily incapable of processing anything more and more aware of the world at large. Space Struck is the sort of collection that changes one’s perspective; the poems are dense and layered, and readers will benefit from pacing themselves as they read. I’m not a patient reader myself, but I found that I most enjoyed these poems when I allowed myself to sit with them, when I allowed myself to remain inside the silence with which I was overcome.

In a year of absolutely gorgeous verse, Paige Lewis sets themselves apart, at once informed by the masters of craft and entirely unique in their own right. This is a collection you won’t want to miss.

Purchase your copy of Space Struck from Sarabande Books.

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