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By Sachiko Murakami
Categories: Women's Literature, Poetry, BIPOC, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9781551528274, 136 pages, 2020
Expected to ship: 2020-09-01
Expected to ship: 2020-09-01


Searing, intimate poems that render a history of trauma, addiction, and recovery through dreams and waking experience.

Render (v. tr. ): to submit, as for consideration; to give or make available; to give what is due or owed; to give in return, or retribution; to surrender; to yield. To represent; to perform an interpretation of; to arrange. To express in another language or form; to translate. To deliver or pronounce formally; to cause to become; to reduce, convert, or melt down, by heating.

A recovery narrative has a known form: what it was like, what happened, and what it's like today. In a poem, what can be arranged or interpreted with such certainty, by whom, and to what end? What is the relationship of the performance of recovery via a poem to the truth of the experience? Does one deliver the other? Insert into these considerations the experience of traumas. How is trauma converted by post-trauma experiences? What is the retribution of that experience when articulated as poetry? Enter these questions through the dream, with its unrenderable subjects, landscapes, and plots. Where do dreams meet poetry in their spontaneous, opaque, necessary structures? What do such comparisons yield to the waking reader? What can be rendered intelligible in the soup of long-term recovery?

With great ferocity and tenderness, Sachiko Murakami's poems encounter such questions, and then melt them down, by heating.


Render is a collection whose poetics work and rework the difficult affects of the contemporary moment. Moving from an acutely personal lyric I to a broader meditation on a collective, these poems ask: How are we meant to survive our personal and collective traumas? And also, how can we do otherwise? The questions this collection poses are vast and vital. What is memory when rendered through trauma? How can one possibly hold debt as it is passed from generation to generation? What should we call individual grief when it is laced through with a global anxiety? How does trauma both sharpen and fray the edges of our sense of self? Murakami uses tactics of erasure, recombination, and tense lyric voice to navigate themes of addiction, alienation, sadness, fear, and sorrow. Yet, somehow, perhaps because of the poet's attentiveness to the materials of suffering, there is a small bird of hope here. Trauma, abuse, anxiety, loss. Love and endurance. Survival. In Sachiko Murakami's deft hands these slippery materials are rendered one into the other until the reader is left shaking, thirsty, and breathless. This collection is both timeless and necessary for these times. I read it in a fever, and then read it through again. -Erin Wunker, author of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

The word 'unspeakable' has been repeatedly used to describe trauma-informed verse, as in the author gives voice to the unspeakable. This is only one example of how survivor's poetics are described paradoxically, as if we cannot allow themes of trauma be lucid and certain. But Sachiko Murakami's poems know the truths they speak. If dreams are messages from another place, then the dreams in Render are a transmission of complex consciousness and memory. If metaphor instructs us to leave and re-enter our own realities, then the figurative language in Render calls us through passages of cyclical pain and recovery. Through each page, each keen-edged poetic line, Sachiko Murakami speaks, and I, for one, am listening. -Amber Dawn, author of My Art Is Killing Me and Other Poems