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In this electrifying debut, lyric works to untangle slippery personal and political histories in the wake of a parent’s suicide. “When my father finally / died,” Vyas writes, “we [...] burned, / like an effigy, the voiceless body.” Grief returns us to elemental silence, where “the wind is a muted vowel in the brush of pine / branches” across American landscapes. These poems extend formal experimentation, caesurae, and enjambment to reach into the emptiness and fractures that remain. This language listens as much as it sings, asking: can we recover from the muting effects of British colonialism, American imperialism, patriarchy, and caste hierarchies? Which cultural legacies do we release in order to heal? Which do we keep alive, and which keep us alive? A monument to yesterday and a missive to tomorrow, When I Reach for Your Pulse reminds us of both the burden and the promise of inheritance. “[T]he wail outlasts / the dream,” but time falls like water and so “the stream survives its source.”
Rushi Vyas was born in Toledo, Ohio. He is co-author of the chapbook Between Us, Not Half a Saint (GASHER Press, 2021) with Rajiv Mohabir, and his poem “Morning Chant: Scatter” was republished as a broadside by the Center for Book Arts. He earned his MFA from the University of Colorado-Boulder and his BS from the University of Michigan. His poems have been published in Adroit Journal, The Georgia Review, Indiana Review, Landfall (NZ), The Offing, The Spinoff (NZ), Tin House, and elsewhere. He has worked as a career counselor, curriculum developer, editor, and facilitator. In 2019, Rushi moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Ōtepoti Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand, where he currently lives, writes, and teaches.
“In this unflinching debut, Rushi Vyas intricately untangles personal and familial memories as a lyrical mode of mourning. ‘I waited all my life for my father to die,’ Vyas writes in the opening poem, and we witness the aftermath of a paternal suicide which left shockwaves in its wake. There is no bracing for the impact of a self- inflicted violence that ends a history of domestic violence. Relief, dread, and radical compassion lace these unforgettable accounts. At times fierce and tender, these poems reveal how anti-elegy is essential to the elegiac form.” —Diana Khoi Nguyen