Impact, Sarah Renee Beach
“There’s a violence in the vacancy, / in what the canvases could not show.”
Through her debut chapbook, Impact, Sarah Renee Beach explicates the grief, violence, and emptiness that fill the space of a traumatic loss. Impact—the winner of Sundress Publications’ 2022 Annual Chapbook Contest—navigates the devastation caused by a horrific bus accident, including the impersonal, unsympathetic process of legal questioning, and follows Beach coping with her complex feelings towards the driver and attempting to reckon with the death of her friends and fellow passengers. Beach exposes her difficult, nonlinear healing process through the careful utilization of different formal elements, from the epistolary style to erasure to frenetically scattered lines and stanzas. Each poem is a tremor, rippling out from the initial incident, revealing another reverberation of her journey in the aftermath. Ultimately, Impact serves as a tender eulogy to both her lost friends and to her life before loss.
“Devastated redactions, grieving epistles, and harrowing definitions in an agonized dictionary painfully and patiently circle the tragedy at the heart of Impact. Sarah Renee Beach wrote this book because she absolutely had to. I don’t know if poetry helps anyone heal, but I do know it to be the best form for expressing the impact of unbearable loss. Every word here is an emergency.”
—Robyn Schiff, author of A Woman of Property
“In the years following a horrific accident, Sarah Renee Beach looks to Frida Kahlo, the dictionary, social media, and legal depositions in an attempt to piece together ‘a true, crystalline thing.’ Impact is perhaps less concerned with healing and remembering than it is with questioning: What does it mean to be a ‘victim’? Or to be ‘lucky’? What should forgiveness look like? Beach considers such questions bravely and without sentimentality—the answers lie somewhere beyond reach, and maybe that is why we need poetry like hers.”
—Mark Bibbins, author of 13th Balloon