The Fat Sonnets

The Fat Sonnets

by Samantha Zighelboim

forthcoming June 1, 2018

Available for preorder / $16


Samantha Zighelboim’s debut collection conducts a radical re-examination of what we mean by body. In these poems, body is noun, verb and adverb; body is dearly beloved and fiercely rejected; it is by turns a singularly beautiful process and a frightening object. Zighelboim takes the sonnet form as a loose premise, a la Bernadette Mayer, but then explodes, expands, defies and otherwise grows out of supposed formal limits, making language into a living embodiment of the refusal of (institutional, patriarchal, cultural) control. The poet’s refusal is the social invisibility of fat bodies is essential. “I am a perfect fucking blossom,” Zighelboim writes, and also “I am entitled to the loneliness of my interminable appetite.” Offering felt registers as subtle as “The oblique/ correspondence between/ a soft body/ and a thin/ layer of/ pulp,” this is the writing of a sharp and observant world-eater: a cosmophage in the truest sense.

Praise for The Fat Sonnets

The Fat Sonnets are greathearted, wickedly brilliant, and wise. Samantha Zighelboim writes with rare passion and exactitude: she can cure, or kill what ails you, and yet she sings from the soul, which is beyond diagnosis, at once perfect; eternal and savagely hungry since whenever eternity began. Hilarious and cruel, every page swells with compassion. I love this book. It is deeply nutritious. It will feed you.

—Ariana Reines

Which stories do we tell, and which do we only pretend to tell? Samantha Zighelboim’s searing debut insists that words are flesh, that if there’s “no space for body on the barstool,” there will be “no space for body in the poetry.” In these poems, the fat body feeds on and feeds a slippery surfeit of language: Zighelboim reminds us that this body is made not just of  “late night binge fantasy delivery orders,” but also of etymology, dreams, “petty silks,” diagnostic euphemisms, interspecies bonds, and “the fountain/ pen of a spinster.” Funhouse-mirror-reflections of Bernadette Mayer’s “skinny sonnets,” these fat sonnets swell with longing: a line becomes a paragraph; a poem splits down the middle like a calving iceberg, a calving body, a manatee floating “in that weightless, boring way.” But this book is anything but boring. Zighelboim’s narrator is too quick, too witty, too self-aware. “I am very charming sometimes,” she reminds us, slyly. “I am a perfect fucking blossom.”

—MC Hyland

Samantha Zighelboim is a 2017 NYFA/NYSCA Fellow in Poetry, a recipient of a Face Out grant from CLMP, and the co-recipient of the 2016 John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize in Translation from The Poetry Foundation. Her poems and translations have appeared in POETRY, Boston Review, The Guardian (as part of Asymptote’s ‘Translation Tuesday’ series), PEN Poetry Series, Stonecutter, Fanzine, Public Pool, Sixth Finch, Bone Bouquet and Springhouse, among others. She  lives in New York City, and teaches creative writing and literature at Rutgers University and The New School. (Author photo credit: Alexis Baldwin)