Poetry. Women's Studies. Art. Music. Winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize. SISYPHUSINA is a cross-genre collection of prose, poetry, visual art, and improvisatory music, centered on female aging. Faced with linguistic and literary traditions that lack rich vocabularies to describe female aging, Shira Dentz uses the hybrid form as an attempt to suture new language that reflects internal and physical processes that constitute a shifting identity. By deviating from formal classical construction, and using the recurring image of a rose, SISYPHUSINA circles around conventions of beauty, questioning traditional aesthetic values of continuity, coherence, and symmetry. Some of the book's images are drawn from separate multimedia collaborations between the author and composer Pauline Oliveros, artist Kathy High, and artist Kathline Carr. A musical composition improvised by Pauline Oliveros, based on one of her text scores, titled "Aging Music," is the book's coda, and readers can listen to it online by scanning a QR code inside the book. The interweaving of these collaborations with the author's voice and voices from other sources imbue this book with a porous texture, and reimagines the boundary of the book as a membrane.
"SISYPHUSINA is a gathering of the abundance and burden of gatherings, of remembrance, of the life that we are told to both carry and live. Shira Dentz examines the unravelings of age, the signs of having been in the world, and when these begin to show on the body. She writes that 'belonging is form.' When one doesn't belong, the world shifts, and its forms shatter. In stunning poetic displays of language, this collection illuminates this shattering, displays it in its very many brilliant, lapidarian, explosive, and heartbreaking forms."—Jenny Boully
"With Sisyphusina, Shira Dentz tunes her eyes micro- and macroscopically to the fine details and patterns of animal behavior. Dentz is acutely aware of the animal that is a human body, in this case, a woman's aging body, but also how the adaptive behaviors of earlier historical moments (such as the Egyptians dying even the hair of the dead) and of flounders and sharks converge into a mass of shared understanding about beauty and existence. This is a calmly anxious book, playful, confident, and exploratory in its textures and experiments with text and form. Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein are shades throughout these pages filled with shells, skin, and suits. We are reminded of the privilege of good vision, and it is a gift to behold the visual art, photographs, and drawings weaving throughout the book. SISYPHUSINA is a multi-media tour de force, an unforgettable one."—Diana Khoi Nguyen
"Even if I weren't caught up in the inspiring words of Shira Dentz, which I am, I would be swept along through her remarkable new book, SISYPHUSINA, by the shapes and textures of her verses, by the graphic surprises (and anticipation) from page to page, by her well-timed typographical idiosyncrasies, and by her perfectly calibrated spaces—around, below, above, and between the areas of text. I fell in love with the way 'the very eye of night' shared two pages with a graph of dots which became snowflakes (asterisks) which became dots again, cued by her words and by a small perpendicularly arranged message: 'thisiskin.'"—Kay Rosen
"It happens to anyone who lives past youth; but contra such redundancy of aging, 'beauty blossoms wisps' in Shira Dentz's SISYPHUSINA. Utterly unpredictable and present to the potential in a next formal possibility, Dentz's poems, images, and astute notations are appearances of generosity, feminist honesty, and wit."—Carla Harryman
"With language in play and at play, SISYPHUSINA exploits the resources of poetry to draw a wide canvas that embraces the quotidien, the sensuousness of nature and the fluidity of dream worlds, all interrupted and, at times, heightened by the visual. Dentz pays the ultimate respect to her readers in allowing them follow the skein of poetry, even as the borderlands between thought and expression are effaced, erased even. Slippery and evanescent, SISYPHUSINA is about how poetry allows us to founder and flounder through the certain uncertainty of life to transform the dross of the ordinary and the everyday into the marvelous."—M. NourbeSe Philip
"It's what happens when a writer runs up against the limitations of language, and instead of conceding, she expands the form into something multidimensional, shoring it up with photographs and line drawings, scatter plots and photocopies, unorthodox punctuation and font sizes, music and video, literal layers of words angled over words. SISYPHUSINA uses form to describe experiences for which we don't fully have words: What it means to have a body, especially an aging body, especially an aging female body."—Alisha Jeddeloh
"What I admire about SISYPHUSINA is that whether through time, the self, or the image at work, there is an attempt at definition even if it is an untrustworthy definition. The willingness to tempt solution, I think, is a particularly innovative flourish throughout the work. 'What we think is a total picture / is a series, an addition of parts.'"—Cody Stetzel, Colorado Review
"A book that moves in ways that most books don't (or won't) attempt... At its center, Sisyphusina is concerned with change—in particular, the changes undergone by a woman. This speaker endures shifting family dynamics, and the changes to her own body as she ages. She also faces criticism for not changing in ways expected of her, for not aligning herself with what Welter would call the 'Cult of True Womanhood'."—Kristina Marie Darling, Tupelo Quarterly
"SISYPHUSINA by Shira Dentz spirals through several concentric circles, each rotation getting closer to the question of what happens when a woman is deemed no longer socially 'useful.'"—Lee Anderson, Sundress Publications Reads
Shira Dentz is the author of six books, including BLACK SEEDS ON A WHITE DISH (Shearsman, 2010), door of thin skins (CavanKerry Press), a cross-genre memoir, how do i net thee (Salmon Poetry), a National Poetry Series finalist, THE SUN A BLAZING ZERO (Lavender Ink, 2019), and SISYPHUSINA (PANK Books, 2020). She's also the author of two chapbooks, Leaf Weather (Shearsman) and FLOUNDERS (Essay Press). Her poetry, visual writing, and prose appear in many venues including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, New American Writing, Brooklyn Rail, Lana Turner, Denver Quarterly, The Academy of American Poets' Poem- a-Day Series (Poets.org), and National Public Radio, and interviews with her appear in journals such as Ploughshares, Rain Taxi, and The Rumpus. Shira is a recipient of awards incuding an Academy of American Poets' Prize, Poetry Society of America's Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Memorial Awards, Painted Bride Quarterly's Poetry Prize, and Electronic Poetry Review's Discovery Award. Before returning to school to pursue graduate studies, she worked as a graphic artist in the music industry in NYC. A graduate of Iowa Writers' Workshop, she holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Utah, and is currently Tarpaulin Sky's Special Features Editor and lives and teaches in upstate New York.
Author City: ALBANY, NY USA