Poetry. Lizard blends aspects of contemporary womanhood with facts about various lizard species to question what it means to be a human at this historical moment, in relation to other humans, other species, and the planet.
Praise for Lizard
"In Lizard, Rosenthal explores the creaturely membranes that lie between the known-social and the unknown-social. When racified nations, nationified peoples, and “self-evident” identities of every make threaten to squash the efflorescence of Life’s lusty reach toward the stars, Lizard is born and scampers about. But Rosenthal’s sense of Fable eschews morals and maxims in favor of claiming a terrain from which the Para-Human can come into being. Slowly, tentatively, and then brashly, Lizard begins to obverse the world (while keenly observed herself). The resulting Kabbalistic strokes are as patently hilarious as they are intelligently perplexing. This is bone instructive poetry. I love it." — Rodrigo Toscano
"Never the jarring ding of a carriage return in Rosenthal's latest; rather, Lizard continuously pivots, knitting each poem onto its previous row of stitches. You'll stay upright in these candid yet lyric lines, but prepare to careen between Self and (slithery) Other until your wobbles start to wibble. Scared? When danger's on its way, what do you do? Lizard 'pours/ her flesh into/ purchased beige,/ becomes a/ dish too ugly/ to taste.' Wouldn't you?" —Amy King
“'How does/ a lizard sing?' Rosenthal’s poem asks, long after it has answered—with a series of tight, deft ventures into the gestural world of the lacertilia, 'Sluggish at dawn,/ brutal at noon.' 'Study the other,' the poem commands, including self as other '—Throw "she"/ in there and Lizard/ immediately thinks it’s/ her.' In coexistence with 'other' genders, other animals, and especially with other words, Lizard flashes 'fabulist mail' at every turn, in surprising captures. Lizard owns categories ('When you stop/ the pronouns/ explode') but categories evaporate as the poem works at 'unimagining' Lizard, asking, 'Is lizard nature?' A delightful dream song, a tour de force in narrow measures. 'Her sudden/ form defines the zero/ point I so adore.'" —Jonathan Skinner
"Lizard is quick, slick, smart, funny, and elusive. I found Rosenthal’s voice engaging and her sense of poetic craft impressive. Whether you see the book as many mini poems or one long poem, the slithery-ness of self and society, abstraction and animal, has hardly been easier to enjoy." —from Dean Rader’s review at Kenyon Review
"…the sumptuousness of Lizard, the complexities of a being not you, the exploratory wildness of pulling-back-the-palm-fronds, peering through the undergrowth and basking in the feeling of forgetting your self." —from Jamie Felton’s review at Lightning’d Press
"Utilizing the lizard as part character and part spirit-animal for the poems, she is able to write through fact, fable and metaphor..." —from rob mclennan’s review at Small Press Book Review
"Lizard is seriously intelligent poetry mirroring a distorted world. Metaphorically inked poems one can read over and over and each time they change color. It all seems so effortless and not a syllable wasted. Quite as succinct and deep as T.S. Eliot (sans the pomposity). I've never read poems this original and haunting. Great stuff!" —from Peter Byrne’s review at Amazon
Multi-genre (prose-poem-like fiction, lineated poems, dream matter, and art reviews). The story of a young woman coming of age in New York City.
Praise for Manhatten
"This is not the mythic Manhattan of bright lights and glitz. It is called Manhatten and it is wonderfully out of kilter. In this mixed-genre book (fiction, poetry, review), Sarah Rosenthal layers headlong, voice-driven prose with silent, otherly poems to tell a story of an island where relationships are disturbed yet meaningful and luminous."—Juliana Spahr
"Proudly misspelled, Manhatten chronicles the adventures of a young woman as she searches for her life story in the ultimate American metropolis. The heroine—who may or may not be author Sarah Rosenthal—leads the reader into one scene after another filled with family, friends, chance acquaintances, exes, and current love interests, where relationships and geography intertwine and memories collect on every street corner. As keen and insistent as the city it describes, this writing attains a clarity fueled by hunger for insight and language's tonal responsiveness. Spanning two coasts, leaping whole decades in a single clause, Manhatten documents the rush of events and the meditative spaces between, negotiating a life complete with all its enchantments, illusions, intersections, and collisions." —Pamela Lu
"I like Sarah Rosenthal's Manhatten because it's generous with self. Also alarmingly well written. And best of all, Manhatten awkwardly and beautifully makes the claim that heterosexuals are human too!" —Eileen Myles
"It is rare to see a written work so perfectly depict the way memory functions." —from Delia Tramontina’s review at Galatea Resurrects
"A triumph of New Narrative."—from Kevin Killian’s review at Amazon
"City and author encounter one another on the page, digest one another, reshape one another in their own respective images. That point of mutual creation is precisely where the blank side of the page shows through, where the sidewalk dissolves into sky." —from Jay Thomas’s introduction for a reading at Small Press Traffic
Interviews. Fills a major gap in contemporary poetics, focusing on one of the most vibrant experimental writing communities in the nation. It features internationally respected writers Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Mackey, Leslie Scalapino, Brenda Hillman, Kathleen Fraser, Stephen Ratcliffe, Robert Gluck, and Barbara Guest, and important younger writers Truong Tran, Camille Roy, Juliana Spahr, and Elizabeth Robinson. The writers discuss vision and craft, war and peace, race and gender, individuality and collectivity, and the impact of the Bay Area on their work. The book’s introduction places the interviews within the context of the history of experimental writing.
Praise for A Community Writing Itself
“Sarah Rosenthal's interviews with some of the most engaging and important American poets of the time, all working in the Bay Area, provide vivid commentary on the state of the art and some of the most useful commentary available on the work of each individual writer.” —Charles Bernstein
“An extraordinary compendium of close engagement with the writing, ethos, and practice of a number of poets who are in situ in the Bay Area, one of the most historically fertile grounds for experimental poetry for a great number of decades. It’s where the Beat literary movement burst upon the Culture at large, and the New American Poetry and its legacies became a cohesive literary ‘outrider’ force. The current poetics community is just as radically potent and individually active, forging new syntaxes and a ‘new company of voices,’ as Michael Palmer puts it. Considerations of history, politics, psychology, spirituality, identity, gender, media, chance operation, performance, and community keep the discourse lively and relevant. This is an invaluable resource of ‘deep talk’ for writers, scholars, and fans alike. Hats off to Sarah Rosenthal who has kept track and asked the provocative questions.” —Anne Waldman
“What Steve Abbott and Bruce Boone achieved with the Left/Write Unity Conference in early eighties San Francisco, bringing together differing groups of poets, Sarah Rosenthal thankfully reenacts in her collection of interviews with Bay Area writers. In A Community Writing Itself twelve poets serving various poetics, from Language writing to New Narrative, are allowed to break consensus regarding the notion of a singular development of shared ambitions. As approaches to the politics of writing are individually charted, connections and communities unfold. If one is interested in the evolution of American poetry since 1950, it is necessary to engage these conversations.” —Claudia Rankine
"Sarah Rosenthal's teleological study of Bay Area poetics, in the form of a liquid, prickly conversation, manages to delight its reader at the same time that it generates a new set of obsessions. A poetry 'expressed in color.' The moment when 'what seemed impossibly strange becomes less so—sometimes anyway.' How an alphabet might 'unbraid' itself, which isn't 'metatext.' It's sudden and overwhelming knowledge about what 'the end of the poem' might bring. See: Agamben via Hoodoo via a 'secret autobiography.' In its exploration of intersections of experimental writing community, feminine monstrosity and 'horny' form—at least, that's where my reading ran a series of red lights—Rosenthal's book is a delicious graft of thinking and writing, performed just outside the safety zone of transcription. You can't go wrong with the most intense form of banter: 'turning about with,' from the Latin root conversationem, 'others.'" —Bhanu Kapil
“…A Community Writing Itself is destined to remain a major text for those wishing to know about Bay Area vanguard writing.” —from Mark Wallace’s review at Jacket2
“I’ve always been taken with any version of literary local histories and archival projects, so … A Community Writing Itself … is certainly a revelation.” —from rob mclennan’s review on his blog
“...how I envy the poets who got to sit down and glory in all those sharply focused, attentive and ultimately liberating questions she asks.” —from Kevin Killian’s review at Attention Span
“…Rosenthal’s introductory history is superb…” —from Ron Silliman’s review on his blog
“One feels secure not only by her knowledge, but also her respect for the interviewee, along with the enthusiasm she sustained over nearly a decade of research and writing—all of which makes the ripostes a pleasure to read.” —from Joel Weishaus’ review on his blog
“Rosenthal is the quiet force, farmer and harvester, of this abundant book. ... She's informed, smart, probing, empathetic. ” —from Richard Silberg’s review at Poetry Flash
Dusie Press (2014)
Poetry. Excerpt from a longer work in progress.
Estelle Meaning Star
above/ground press (2014)
Poetry. Excerpt from a longer work in progress.
“I love her turns of phrase & odd juxtapositions, a sense of the macabre amongst businesslike celebration.” —from Amanda Earl’s review at above/ground press
“…the overall poem presents a construct where we move back and forth between the observing eye to the lyricism of the speaker’s narrative story; the hook is in the exchange as we ponder who the animals are and what is being made metaphor in this poem’s universe.” —from Megan Burns’ review at Drunken Boat
“Rosenthal … seems interested in the book as unit of composition, writing out longer sequences that collage themselves into being, and into a kind of structural and thematic unity...” —from rob mclennan’s review at his blog
a+bend press (2000)
Poetry. Comprises five poems: “Religiosity,” “they squeeze us together in here,” “i–iv,” “the book of ruth day,” and “sitings.”
“Like her 1999 book, not-chicago (Melodeon), Rosenthal's Sitings is populated by stray voices, odd figures, alien subjects whose presence fascinates us not because of the way they live (we don't know how they live) but because of the things they say. It's also possible that no one speaks, that language doesn't speak, that the speech act itself is speaking instead.” —from Jono Schneider’s review at VeRT
Melodeon Poetry Systems (1998)
“This beautiful chapbook is a triumph of form.”—from Jono Schneider’s review in Lyric& #7
How I Wrote This Story
Margin to Margin Press (2001)
Fiction. Comprises two interlocking stories, “she—about whom” and “How I Wrote This Story.” Winner of the Leo Litwak Fiction Award.