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About this poet

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin Books, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series, and Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), which received the 2017 James Laughlin Award.

Of his work, James Laughlin Award judge Tyehimba Jess writes, "Bury It, sam sax’s urgent, thriving excavation of desire, is lit with imagery and purpose that surprises and jolts at every turn. Exuberant, wild, tightly knotted mesmerisms of discovery inhabit each poem in this seethe of hunger and sacred toll of toil. A vitalizing and necessary book of poems that dig hard and lift luminously."

sax has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, The MacDowell Colony, and Stanford University, among others. He currently serves as the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.

Bildungsroman

i never wanted to grow up to be anything horrible
as a man.  my biggest fear  was the hair  they said
would    snake    from  my   chest,   swamp    trees
breathing  as  i  ran.  i prayed for a  different  kind
of  puberty:  skin  transforming  into  floor boards
muscles  into  cobwebs, growing  pains  sounding
like an  attic  groaning  under  the  weight  of  old
photo  albums.  as a  kid  i  knew  that  there  was
a car burning above water before this life,  i woke
here  to  find  fire   scorched   my  hair  clean  off
until i shined like glass—my eyes,  two acetylene
headlamps. in my family we have a story for this:
my brother holding me in his hairless arms.  says

dad it will be a monster            we should bury it.

From Bury It. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Reprinted by permission.

From Bury It. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Reprinted by permission.

sam sax

sam sax

sam sax is the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series and forthcoming in 2017 from Penguin Books.

by this poet

poem
in through the eye
 
device adapted from an ice pick
 
the space between the cornea & tear duct tears
 
little incisions along the frontal lobe
 
you open the grapefruit 
 
poem

the time for nuance is over
i argue over breakfast
explaining how it’s oft used
to confuse dissent—knife
through my poached egg.
politicized work made all yolky,
easy to consume & forget.
i dab with the toasted bread
agitation & propaganda i rant

2
poem

and again the test comes back negative for waterborne parasites
for gonorrhea of the throat and of elsewhere       for white blood cells in the stool

this isn’t always true       sometimes it’s a phone call from your lover