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Review of the Latest from Sandra Doller by Katie Jean Shinkle

December 8, 2015




Leave Your Body Behind
By Sandra Doller
134 pp. Les Figues Press, $17.00

Gertrude Stein writes to the effect that writing is synonymous with existing and that language is as breathing. Everything has a lot to do with everything. Nothing is disconnected, even in its frailty, even its (mis) or (dis)connection, the most tenuous. Sandra Doller, in Leave Your Body Behind, cites Stein before we enter her text, “Everything has a lot to do with poetry. Everything has a lot to do with prose.” Complete sentences with full stops. Declarative.

The aphoristic text alternates between prose blocks, most lasting a page or two, and quotations and citations from other thinkers, among them Harryette Mullen, Yoko Ono, and Roland Barthes. Performatively reworking both the memory of the writer and the memory of the language, it coheres into a not-quite-memoir, not-quite-essay of constant, quick insight.

In Leave Your Body Behind, the existing and breathing has to do with leaving behind the sinewy synapses of what you think you know, your and this molten body, the lava corpse of understanding writing and how to get inside language. It’s about, as Doller says, getting inside something enormous, something ancient, something before you and after you. She writes “. . . did you sign your life over to something enormous.” Declarative. Full stop.

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