August 5, 2009

Review by Ash Bowen

by Sarah J. Sloat

Tilt Press
9309 Plashet Lane
Charlotte, North Carolina 28227
2009, 22 pp., $8.00

For the past five years or so, I have not only read, but actively sought out, poems by Sarah J. Sloat. Her poems are replete with striking language, unique visions, and poetic prowess. Now, at last, 22 of Sloat’s poem are available, collected as In the Voice of a Minor Saint, and the book is cause for celebration.

Sloat’s poems possess an elegant plainness. Her spare, unadorned style seems most aptly described by the cliché “deceptively simple,” but for Sloat, the term fits. Her poems expand with successive reads. The “plots” of the poems are so engaging that the subtle, nuanced language might be missed, but make no mistake: the poems are infused with sonic richness and textures that will show the reader why Sloat’s work is appearing in some of the country’s best journals.

The book’s two ghazals offer the most obvious examples of Sloat’s finely tuned ear:

If the moon comes out bearing nicks and bite marks,
you’ll find me smoothing my skin of its cares tonight.
(“Ghazal with Heavenly Bodies”)

Wind flew on a blue bicycle of rain,
took the streets, sidewalks and sun with it.
(“Ghazal of the Bright Body”)

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