“If everyone decided to call themselves a girl / that word would stop.” In this award-winning volume of authoritative and assertive poems, Sarah Vap embarks on an emotional journey to the land of America’s female children. Questioning, contradicting, radically and restlessly demanding acceptance, she searches for a way to move from serious girlhood to womanly love. Demonstrating the seriousness of female childhood—which is as dangerous and profound as war, economics, and history, that is, as manhood, in her view—Vap reveals the extremes of self-doubt and self-righteousness inherent in being a contemporary American girl.

“When we’re overcome / by everything we think we love—then by morning / we’re adults.” Just as the oil of American spikenard may provide relief from childhood, so does Sarah Vap provide the kind of holy and extravagant love and honor that can relieve the growing pains of “everyone’s little girl.”

Push-off Sideways

Pan of crayons and candles, trusting in them
the solidarity. Or in her—she’s free
not to care any longer. To put out pumpkins
for the bear. But which lover was it
kissed her in his sleep? Put her in a river
to cool down. There’s a reduceless
feeling: that womankind
dropped her memory. That six folded-around interstates
make a city’s red chakra and I’m sorry it wasn’t me
dropped since she touched the chair of anger that shares a wall
with the ground of bearings. Dyslexia makes her holy ghost
polyglot. In the history of disclosures
we think we’re all stretched out next to her,
but there she goes calling kitty kitty
at the on-ramp.

“Sarah Vap’s poems are stunningly voiced, bristling with drive and energy. Her rich and inhabited landscapes thrive on her tough, relentlessly probing, questioning, and wide-ranging diction. American Spikenard is like one long poem, a poet’s coming to terms with identity and history in a quest to be acknowledged for exactly who she is.”—Ira Sadoff, author, Barter 
“For those ready to explore the glitter and scars of girlhood, Sarah Vap’s first book is ‘saying, for the sake of integrity, the dearest things.’ Here, in poems in which the ancestors are often made of glass, we find shattered, luminous bedtime stories steeped in vulnerability. At turns sly and direct, American Spikenard summons ghosts and dolls, dogs and ponies, the snotty baby Jesus and holy birthday parties. A beautiful, weird collection that holds the promise of intimacy and the provocation of mystery.” —Arielle Greenberg, author,  My Kafka Century

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Publication Details

Publication Date
96 pages
Trim size
6 x 8 inches