Sally-Shakti Willow’s bold new collection Atha utilises collage technique to espouse a Utopian Poetics described as ‘a relationship of non-alienation between reader and writer’ in which one encounters one’s embodied and intersubjective self. In combining fragments from a rich array of sources such as yoga manuals with the 24 hour news cycle, Willow ensures that this enquiry fully integrates inner and outer worlds in lines like ‘hormone secretions stimulate freedom of movement.’ In her series of rituals for Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, this utopian tension is memorably chased by a ‘ghostword’ that ‘sembles’ and ‘dissembles’ as it ‘search [es] the words / for the root.’ The final section ‘Movement & Meditation’ opens with the question ‘how to metabolise this’, when ‘this’ feels like all the evils of the world rising to engulf us. That the answer must be ‘my voice’ puts Willow’s courageous and generous work firmly in the company of writers like Maggie O’Sullivan – to whom she pays tribute here – making Atha an accomplished and inspiring act of ‘edgewordering.’
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