Body Burden by Zayne Turner


6 in stock

$16.95, 6x9, 72 pages, perfect bound
ISBN 978-1-888553-96-3
Purchases for the trade are handled by SPD.

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Winner of 2015 Kore Press First Book Award, selected by Tracie Morris

Body Burden is an investigation—into historical documents, public records, imagined letters, and into a rich variety of visual and linguistic forms. The poems invite readers inside the 10,000 foot level of the Comstock lode, arrays of spent plutonium rods and generations of a family, inextricably tied to economic and ecological disasters ‘marbling our part of the West’ from late 19th century to now. Body Burden invites readers to look, hear and experience the language and facts of history and science as more than evidence, but the stuff ‘we make our beds from/and lie among,’ the songs and silence of life itself.

Praise for Body Burden

This manuscript is visceral, bold and expansive. The writing and its organization is physically impactful. The range of writings and the seamless ways in which very different types of writing interact with each other unites driven and divergent environments of poetic thought. Body Burden inhabits the body. It’s a pleasure to read, see and feel with the body. –Tracie Morris

Gathering its power slowly the way good archival research does, Body Burden assembles a history from scraps saved for generations in the back of an inherited family Bible. Triggered in part by articles about a mining accident that claimed the life of Turner’s great-great-great grandfather, this book attempts to rescue a family history partially erased by the slow violence of industry and rural poverty left in the wake of westward expansion. Plutonium, uranium, arsenic: Turner’s genealogy measures the literal and metaphorical “body burdens” that accumulate as the lasting legacy of working-class lives, and examines the gendered nature of the burdens that “will not break down/with comprehension.” I admire the ambition and passion of this book, written in honor and in memory of mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, each carrying a fragment of “the human shrapnel/[that] spans generations.” —Brian Teare

By what grammar parse any familial and environmental legacy, each, to paraphrase Tolstoy, ineffably toxic in its own way? Drawing on the formal paradigms of architecture, calculus, algorithm, geology, medicine, semiotics, and journalism, the intrepid speaker of these poems moves through hazardous literal and lineal landscapes without a trace of unwarranted ire or oversimplified indictment, but rather with extraordinary intelligence and compassion.  Intertextual, glossed alike by the songs of miners, local news disaster stories, and the epistles of hardscrapple settlers as well as by the insights of philosopher/thinkers like Beckett, Cixous, Milton, Lucretius, and Lorde, Body Burden—heir of Adrienne Rich’s seminal “Diving Into the Wreck”—mines “the human shrapnel / [that] spans generations” in order to unearth, map, and discern through the body what Susan Howe calls “the ambiguous paths of kinship.”Lisa Russ Spaar

Excerpt from Body Burden


They are constant

if amalgamated

quantities: for example,

early mornings, on occasion,

one catches an edge

in the mirror, which raises questions

of substantiation: to be specific, take (for instance)

the differential amplification

of my sister’s hips

to mine, the eager gold

in our brother’s skin, what our grandmother

tried to erase

in the bathtub: this is not about recovery:

they are not lost, not buried

but in blossom: this blood

bodies forth evidence,

our best guesses, what will not break down

with comprehension:

I am learning

there are many ways

to hunger—

Zayne Turner

Zayne Turner, Kore Press Author

Zayne Turner grew up in the rural High Desert of Oregon. She is the author of the chapbook Memory of My Mouth, from dancing girl press, and chapbooks & broadsides published in her name and collaboratively as T.H. Peros by Edison St. Press. She has received grants and fellowships for literary & visual arts from the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, Oregon Arts Commission, Vermont Studio Center and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives and works in Minneapolis.

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Additional information

Weight 0.2875 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 9 in