04 April 2013

Sarah Rosenthal's Next Big Thing


Sarah Rosenthal asked if I'd host her "Next Big Thing" contribution here, and, of course, I'm delighted to see (and share) it. A new book by Sarah Rosenthal, especially a book called Lizard (!), sounds awesome!

Here's Sarah:

What is the title of the book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was teaching a class on the letter as literary form and in my reader I included an untitled poem by Sesshu Foster that begins with a gesture toward epistolarity and then veers into a captivating portrait of a (male) character named Lizard, which is at the same time an extravagant celebration of language. Half the students were enthralled with the poem and the other half railed against its slippery indeterminacy. The ruckus seemed vibrant, necessary. I wrote a response of sorts (a letter?) to Foster’s poem, about a female Lizard who, like Foster’s character, blends features of the human and the reptile. I continued to accrue poems featuring Lizard and after several months I realized it would be a book.

I don’t recall when in this process the notion of hybridity impacted my consciousness thanks to Bhanu Kapil, Donna Haraway, and others, but I’m glad for the impact.

I also strongly associate the germination of the project with the fact of my father’s sharp decline and death that same semester. It was a tumultuous time for me and out of that chaos Lizard was born.


What genre does your book fall under?



What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

If Kathy Acker were alive and an actress, she might be a good candidate for Lizard.


What’s the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Lizard transgresses the lines between imagination and documentation, between I and you and she, seeking moments of freedom from the repressive aspects of human consciousness and institutions.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The work in Lizard blends aspects of femaleness with scientific information about lizards. It also reflects my ongoing interest in the artistic process, poetry, and language.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s currently under consideration by a few publishers.

Thanks to Jennifer Firestone for tagging me in this Next Big Thing game. In turn I'd like to tag Justin Chin, Erin Wilson, Rodrigo Toscano, and Mary Ellen Hannibal.

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