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Wesleyan Univ. Sept. 2018. 72p. ISBN 9780819577313. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780819577320. POETRY
OrangeReviewStarWinner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award, Sax's sophomore effort continues the themes and tenor of his debut (Madness), exploring the often tragic social and emotional complexities of queer life in America. Triggered by the alarmingly high suicide rate among young gay males, the poems here constitute a 21st-century Book of the Dead, a frank, often harrowing elegy to those for whom the unbearable denial and exclusion of their identities is relieved only by the ultimate negation of self, as "everyday another friend takes his narrative in his own hands." With uncompromising imagery—the bodies of three drowned boys are "white and soft as plastic grocery bags"—and candor ("I came out to my mother over text, each letter wept into place"), Sax escorts readers on a bleak journey to the interior that remains hidden to most.
VERDICT The depth of the poet's empathy and lived experience together with his stylistic concision infuse these poems with an emotional authenticity that will speak not only to readers of poetry but also, paraphrasing William Carlos Williams, to those who suffer for lack of what is found there.

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