WINNER OF THE 2016 METATRON PRIZE
I take beauty personally
The stagnant wealth of it
And its uneven distribution
But I regret confusing the ordinary
For the sublime
Light is louche and love is not a natural beauty in Sarah Jean Grimm’s disarming and ethereal debut collection of poetry. Soft Focus glares at subjects like internet culture, bodies, beauty products, and American exceptionalism, laying their contents bare. Grimm’s poems lift the veil of femininity and the result is brilliant and raw. A true journey through the psychic landscape of today’s fixations and phobias.
Sarah Jean Grimm is a writer and publicist based in New York City. She is a founding editor of the online quarterly, Powder Keg Magazine.
First edition, first printing
Cover design | Eric Amling
Author photo | Tramaine George
Editor | Ashley Opheim
“When I was a kid, my favorite ice cream flavor was the one called ‘rainbow.’ What I most liked about the flavor wasn’t its sweetness, which was like bubblegum made of strawberries and blackberries, but rather its abundance of bright colors, which, spoonful by spoonful, lick by lick, mixed until they merged.
Melted rainbow ice cream wasn’t made of a thousand colors any longer, but rather only one: purple, muted, and dark; and yet, its flavor continued to be exactly the same as before.
I believe that this is precisely what happens with the poetry of Sarah Jean Grimm. Her verses are explosions of color, but they can also become a melody bitter and black. Whoever dares to read them—to lick them, to chew them—will understand that the sorrow they sometimes contain balances the sweetness of their pleasure. Thus, Soft Focus is like a rainbow. Like a memory of childhood that flickers out. Like a magical, impossible flavor that, without doubt, will turn us into addicts.”
– Luna Miguel
#poet #Losestomagos #poetryisnotdead #mom #mermaid #goddess
“The speaker of the poems in Soft Focus admires then recoils, looks at you then looks away, flickers on then off—all in an effort to understand and harness her own power. Sometimes that power comes from her body, sometimes it comes from performance, and sometimes it comes simply from defining what she wants, even when it’s unattainable. I love the lens Sarah Jean Grimm sees her world through.”
– Chelsea Hodson
#poet #teacher #PitytheAnimal #Catapult #magic
“The speaker in Sarah Jean Grimm’s Soft Focus is a girl always on the verge, blithely post-body but still ‘gutted to know the animal.’ Reading these poems made me feel like I was watching myself in a two-way mirror, about to knock on the glass.”
– Niina Pollari
#writer #translator #DeadHorse #internethuman
Press + Reviews + Interviews + Excerpts
“A collection of curious first-person lyrics, Grimm’s poems explore and articulate issues of the self and the body, and the ways in which culture alter our perceptions around both. There is a dream-like element to the pieces here, suggesting that the ‘Soft Focus’ is half dream-state/half deliberate squint, whether for the sake of an altered perception or self-protection (or both). Grimm’s poems seem to exert against occasional exhaustion, cultural bullshit and growing pains; hers is a book of uncertainty, perseverance and exploration.”
“[T]here is an abundance of mirrors and lenses in this book; there’s a recurring gaze and a sense of distortion that follows. Can anyone see themselves accurately, or do we mostly reflect what we imagine others’ perceptions of us to be? And how might that be especially true for a female-identifying person, on whom society has projected a very specific set of visual values? As a woman, how do I navigate a world both natural and man-made, remaining soft and hard simultaneously? Throughout the book, I try to complicate this kind of dualism with fragmentation, a lack of focus that is also an adaptive strategy of female existence.”
“Grimm [is] a modern-day Plath, using knife-sharp language to offer a scathing critique of society’s pressures on women to remain small and silent. But imagine if Plath was our contemporary, and had the nerve to write metaphors more stunning, more gut-wrenching, with veiled references to porn and pain.”
“Grimm […] finds poetry in the shimmering and bloodied magic of being alive in today’s world, and casts a soft, cutting eye at everything from celebrity and consumerism to green lawns and GMOs.”