The poems in Sara London’s Upkeep offer a guidebook for both coping with and negotiating the difficult terrain of life after great personal loss. In the book’s opening section, the speaker explains to a Martian the ways we earthlings attempt to raise our dead—“you’ll find that with dreams // we exhume our dead without the mess /of upturned dirt”—and later finds comfort in objects that connect her to her late Mr. Fix-It father. These are elegies whose solemnity has been upended by humor and the nuanced interrogations of the daily rituals that heal us. “How do you / do it, start the experiment— / gas up, each day, anew?” she asks. Oatmeal and duct tape help, London suggests, but ultimately the heart decides: The “old tubes, they play on.”
About the Author
Sara London is also the author of The Tyranny of Milk (Four Way Books). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Common, Quarterly West, Cortland Review, the Hudson Review, Poetry East, the Iowa Review, and the Poetry Daily anthology. She teaches at Smith College, and has also taught at Mount Holyoke and Amherst colleges. Sara grew up in California and Vermont, attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and lived for many years in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Also the author of two children’s books, she is the poetry editor at the Woven Tale Press magazine. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“. . . . The earmark of this distinctive book is the tension between the simplicity of the poems’ occasions and the intricacy of their construction. A woman braiding her hair, a folding chair beside a mother’s coffin, someone cleaning a street or cooking oatmeal or driving through a storm, some fruit in a bowl, it is out of these small, unassuming, easily overlooked (by anyone but London) objects and moments that the poems in Upkeep construct their elaborate extended metaphors. . . .” —Lynn Emanuel
“When Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote ‘the achieve of, the mastery of the thing,’ he exactly describes the richly textured idiom and virtuosic musicality of Sara London’s Upkeep. I greatly admire how her understanding of elegy is in tension with her humor and essential hopefulness. But most of all, her work embodies what Seamus Heaney once called ‘the steadfastness of speech articulation,’ in which her care for language is continuous with her care for other people and the world.” —Tom Sleigh