Release Date: January 29, 2018
Civil Coping Mechanisms
- Review by Mike Corrao at Cleaver Magazine
Amy Saul-Zerby’s second poetry collection is a fractured, lyric fairytale that reminds us that stories are both real and not real. The contemporary idea of self-determination is still ‘some pink riddle, all edges still.’ The poetic voice in Deep Camouflage is blended with its surroundings—because it wishes to do no harm. Yet it winks at you, sharing a private benediction for invisible, discarded selves. You are never more beautiful than when you are floating, seeing and unseen. These poems tie a wedding knot around longing and loss, art and artifice. Though we are always disappearing, we are not forgotten.
—Monica McClure, author of Tender Data
Deep Camouflage is here to reclaim the woman scorned. Amy Saul-Zerby’s second poetry collection takes a sharp scalpel to the gendered expectations and emotional inequalities that shape romance and its breakdowns, railing against the kind of love that looks like a woman in orbit—that makes her make herself small. By turns stunningly vulnerable and wryly funny (‘when god closes a door / he opens a window // and i’m like / who cares’), Saul-Zerby captures a particular kind of twenty-first-century despair that’s tinged with optimism despite itself, like an inflatable pool swan in a hurricane. These poems stake out a self-conscious search for ‘the point’ of intimacy when it is tethered to individual perceptions, warning an estranged ‘you’ that ‘i’m not sure who told you / that everyone’s truth / was equally deserving / of respect // but it wasn’t me.’ Saul-Zerby is unafraid to roll around in the absurdity of fantasy and all-consuming desire at the same time that she reveals their manipulative, trauma-laced undersides. ‘If we are going down,’ Deep Camouflage says, ‘we better / go all the way fucking down.’ At the bottom of this deep-earth excavation, though, there is room to breathe—even, mercifully, to laugh.”
—Liz Bowen, author of Sugarblood
Amy Saul-Zerby studies feelings. The feelings no one wants discussed in public. A psychologist studies human behavior, a sociologist studies human behavior in groups, the poet studies feelings. A true poet views feelings as real living things, as real as chairs, microwaves, canyons and rivers. There are few poets, because few of us, want to investigate the intimacies of ourselves. I can see Amy Saul-Zerby walking the streets of Philadelphia in winter, wearing a big coat, hat, gloves and scarf. She is holding a cup of coffee, then, suddenly, a feeling arises in her, she embraces it, puts her hand to her chest and tries to understand the unique flavor of the emotion. As she stands there, the world of people walk, cars pass, lights turn from red to green. Everyone busy, going places, but the poet, stands among all of it, in their sense of time, in their own special poet world. Amy Saul-Zerby is a true poet, she takes the unintelligible feelings we all have, and has given them language.
—Noah Cicero, author of Nature Documentary