Poetry. Uneasy and vigilantly aware of the mire of awareness, these poems wrest from daily encounters of city life a contentious consciousness that can open, albeit explosively to each next instant. Just as the title connotes both the short smoothbore gun used by the military to wreak havoc and the organic material made from cement, sand, lime, and water that bonds the bricks of a cityscape together, this collection of poetry offers both the emergency of society's destructive failings and the sometimes vexed sometimes confoundingly transformative emergence of intimacy between self and other. The fragments that construct these poems court grammar and turn from it, their slipperiness befits both the anxiety and ambivalence— the pleasure and the trap—of attempting to name the known, the knowable, and then to find oneself snared in the constructs that such knowing compels one to inhabit.
"Sara Mumolo's MORTAR strips the 'flexible architecture of belonging' of its democratic sentimentality. By examining the ideology of their own careful phrasing, her poems reveal and revel in what it means for a citizen to belong simultaneously to a plurality of subject positions and symbolic systems. The surreal intersections of gender, nation, class, language and genre become, in her work, 'an activity / not an image,' a subversive motile language that dares to 'disarm the most comfortable beliefs' and critique 'how the bourgeoisie believed in Desire.' With wry feminist humor and not a little ambivalence, her poems document the psychic costs of an economy that conflates sex and capital, the female nude and the courtesan. 'Rolling over onto backs, we're conflict's mascot,' Mumolo bravely writes, 'none of these anxieties are new.' Dear wise and foolish virgins of late, late capitalism: this book is for you."—Brian Teare
"Remember the Athens, Georgia band Pylon? If not, that's okay—they're kind of timeless and you can Google them, though we should also be careful not to equate the quality of a thing with how easy it is to access. As you'll hear, Sara Mumolo has some of that band's jittery energy and something like their sound, which is to say the anxious, odd, and increasingly common sound of personal electronic devices rendering our insides almost entirely public. Remember when blogs were the old new guitars? But true to its name and in the faces of its crises, MORTAR keeps it together."—Graham Foust
"Sara Mumolo's MORTAR is a book of action and reflection, of succinct dramatic moments. Forgetting and remembering, the saint of translation, 'St Jerome climbs out of his pictures.' The easy, lilting physical and metaphysical figures radiate a painterly, storybook quality that messes with the concision of Mumolo's diction, her unexpected puns. In MORTAR, the 'fragile achievements of uncertainty'—the certainty of uncertainty—is imagined amidst the natural world and worlds of human construction, the 'bouquets ofbuildings.' This book is a clarifying encounter."—Norma Cole
Author City: OAKLAND, CA USA
Sara Mumolo is the Program Manager for the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary's College of CA. She is the co-editor of the chapbook series Calaveras with Alisa Heinzman. Mumolo created and curated the Studio One Reading Series in Oakland, CA, from 2008-2012, and Cannibal Books published her chapbook March in 2011. Poems have appeared in 1913: A JOURNAL OF FORMS, ELEVEN ELEVEN, Action, Yes, Lana Turner, The Offending Adam, RealPoetik, The Volta, and VOLT, among others.
Reviews and Other Links
Jenny Drai @ Stitched, Stapled, Bound