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Sara Mumolo

2013 • 80 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry - American / Poetry - Women Authors

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-90-2

“This nude is planetary, heavy. Also, “what does the moon do” [the moon so often allied with the feminine] begs us to answer the question it poses. If I remember... [continued in Reviews below]”—Jenny Drai, Stitched Stapled Bound

Mortar is a text of stealth and volatility, of both explosive and empathic interactions.

Mortar is a text of stealth and volatility, of both explosive and empathic interactions. Just as the title connotes both the short smoothbore gun used by the military to wreak havoc, and the organic material made from cement, sand, lime and water that bonds the bricks of a cityscape together, so, too, do these poems offer both the emergency of society’s destructive failings and the sometimes vexed sometimes confoundingly transformative emergence of intimacy between self and other. The fragments that construct these poems court grammar and turn from it, their slipperiness befits both the anxiety and ambivalence—the pleasure and the trap—of attempting to name the known, the knowable, and then to find oneself snared in the constructs that such knowing compels one to inhabit. Uneasy, vigilantly aware of the mire of awareness, these poems wrest from daily encounters of city life a contentious consciousness that can open, albeit explosively to each next instant.

Reviews / Endorsements

This nude is planetary, heavy. Also, “what does the moon do” [the moon so often allied with the feminine] begs us to answer the question it poses. If I remember correctly from elementary school science classes, the moon reflects (light). Reflections make me think of mirrors, which do not show us what we really look like, but rather switch our left and right sides. [Hence, those of us with asymmetrical faces look slightly different in a mirror than we do in a photograph.] And yet despite this reflection, this illusion, we continue stubbornly as we are. “BOOMING,” if you will. Mumolo’s nude is claiming something back for herself. As a whole, these nudes reject their own commoditization even as they wonder just how possible it is to step out of the frame. The effect is eerie, ethereal.—Jenny Drai, Stitched Stapled Bound

Sara Mumolo’s Mortar strips the “flexible architecture of belonging” of its democratic sentimentality. By examining the ideology of their own careful phrasing, her poems reveal and revel in what it means for a citizen to belong simultaneously to a plurality of subject positions and symbolic systems. The surreal intersections of gender, nation, class, language and genre become, in her work, “an activity/not an image,” a subversive motile language that dares to “disarm the most comfortable beliefs” and critique “how the bourgeoisie believed in Desire.” With wry feminist humor and not a little ambivalence, her poems document the psychic costs of an economy that conflates sex and capital, the female nude and the courtesan. “Rolling over onto backs, we’re conflict’s mascot,” Mumolo bravely writes, “none of these anxieties are new.” Dear wise and foolish virgins of late, late capitalism: this book is for you.—Brian Teare, Author of Companion Grasses

Sara Mumolo’s MORTAR is a book of action and reflection, of succinct dramatic moments. Forgetting and remembering, the saint of translation, “St Jerome climbs out of his pictures.” The easy, lilting physical and metaphysical figures radiate a painterly, storybook quality that messes with the concision of Mumolo’s diction, her unexpected puns. In MORTAR, the “fragile achievements of uncertainty” – the certainty of uncertainty – is imagined amidst the natural world and worlds of human construction, the “bouquets of buildings.” This book is a clarifying encounter.—Norma Cole, Author of To Be At Music

From the Book:


Maybe she’s as lonely as the rest of us, not comfortable with failure.
I step into your voice, its outfit. I watch you wear your voice. You
could say I cultivated a face. In your. Makeup. I’ve packed up all the
weather. Men having babies in their paintings. Babies history arrests
outside of my museum, which is her museum. I sing into its building,
unharvested with echo. Tone on sleeve. She’s as lonely as the rest of us,
she says. And wears it, disdainfully. I put my cheek on the frame to cool
my eyes. You say you’re writing this one as a woman comfortable with
failure. I am breathing this one as a failure comforting her. She writes
this uncomfortable movement. This one has a body to zip up. This one
is a reel around the baby. A bird’s wingspan in a museum, its echo on
my tear.

SARA MUMOLO is the Program Manager for the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of CA. She co-edits CALAVERAS, an irregular chapbook series, with Alisa Heinzman. Her first collection of poems, Mortar, will be published by Omnidawn in fall 2013 and her chapbook March was published by Cannibal Books in 2011. She created and curated the Studio One Reading Series from 2008-2012. Some poems appear in Action Yes, 1913: a journal of forms, Coconut, Lana Turner Volta, and Volt, among others.

Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:25:01 -0500