Home » Newpages Blog » Book Review :: We Could Hang a Radical Panel of Light by Sarah Rosenthal

Book Review :: We Could Hang a Radical Panel of Light by Sarah Rosenthal

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In Sarah Rosenthal’s chapbook, We Could Hang a Radical Panel of Light, the reader is offered the opportunity to view the manual labor behind making cut-up and collaged poems from a dream journal. Black text on a white background affixed to a gray page creates little rectangular light boxes, illuminating the poet’s tactile and associative compositional process.

The composition itself is lyric and elegiac. At its center is a “self / positioning,” figuring out “how to / squeeze into language.” This “implies trauma.” The reader is addressed directly by “Estelle meaning star,” though others or other aspects of Estelle— “I” and “she”— contribute to the conversation from “broken down / years.”

Foremost here seems to be a “child… / en route to woman,” experiencing “a pain that stretches the length of a body” or “one hundred fifty / … years.” The spare, pressured composition matches well with concerns about female identity and pain.

The composition emits a quality of the embodied and disembodied; though words have been affixed to pages and fixed in space, meaning and definitions are in transit. For Estelle, “who dots the sky,” we are her observers. We witness how “night’s / middle daughter / disperses” and is given “a new name.”

To read Rosenthal’s chapbook-length poem is to remind us that “the / dreams we have / [are] divining rods.”

We Could Hang a Radical Panel of Light by Sarah Rosenthal. Drop Leaf Press, 2022.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear.

Spread the word!