Sandra Simonds is a poet and critic. She is the author of eight books of poetry, including Triptychs (Wave Books, 2022), Atopia (Wesleyan University Press, 2019), Orlando (Wave Books, 2018), Further Problems with Pleasure, winner of the 2015 Akron Poetry Prize, Steal It Back (Saturnalia Books, 2015), The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012), and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems have been included in The Best American Poetry in 2014 and 2015. Her poems and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Chicago Review, Granta, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Fence and others. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and is an associate professor of English at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia.
Simonds’s sonnets are uncaged, snarling, rooting creatures, ferreting about the mind like it’s a shoebox of memorabilia. These sonnets execute that mysterious task which only poems can: expose the connective roots of memories, objects, and beings, despite how dissonant the universe can feel.
How do you write poems while caring for children, teaching composition, and trying to make rent? How do you think about—for example—domestic violence, Bikram Yoga, and being in love, all at once? The world is an exhausting place full of unsustainable contradictions; the sonnet holds some parts of it uncomfortably, energetically, together.
Steal It Back will not let us forget our own complicity in building a soulless society. The juxtaposition of priceless works of art with our shoddy, big-box store culture generates an anger that is the book’s main power. Simonds’s style is direct, her sentences both sharp-edged and fragile in their rawness.
In her writing, she lets her “self” be split into multiple personas that are totally and not totally her at the same time. And alongside that “self” are hosts of strange societal bedfellows, unwitting perpetrators of their own oppression or momentary motions of freedom. So there’s a ton of bardic ghosting going on that’s not yet discursively explainable, but that feels essential to a re-tooling of political volition.
Reviews of books by Sandra Simonds
- “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” and “The Flammagenitus Strophes” (in Poetry Magazine)
-"Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk” and "“Gong! Gong! Gong!” (in Bennington Review)
- “Your Eyes Resemble Mine" (in Kenyon Review)
-“Now Wait for Last Year,” “Anonymous Entered the Subjunctive Mood,” “Hold Said the Hand,”
and “The Future is No Longer What it Was” (in The Brooklyn Rail)
- “To Take a Lover in the Intricately Woven Kaleidoscope" (in Couplet Poetry)
- “Now that Your Dead, I’m Observing Great Bodies of Water" (in The Scales Project)
- “March Pandémie" (in the Green Mountain Review)
- “Dear Anselm” and “As in Leaving the Pyroclastic Volcano” (in the Account)
- “Bildungsroman" (in Prelude Magazine)
- “On the Way to the Shore, I Bought You A Bonsai Cypress Tree,” “Pastoral in the Minor Key,”
and “I Gave Birth in Another Era” (in American Poetry Review)
- Bennington Review, with Matthew Tuckner
- University of Arizona Poetry Center, with Jon Riccio
-Reading from Triptychs and Q&A for Dire Reading Series with Timothy Gager: