Poetry, chapbook, 48 pages, from Bottlecap Features.
To Seem the Stranger takes its title from one of Gerard Manley Hopkins' “terrible sonnets” often referred to as either "To Seem the Stranger" or its full first line "To seem the stranger lies my lot, my life." The collection is one that centers on a similar theme as the Hopkins poem—acedia, or spiritual grief, in this case, caused by a romantic betrayal. Yarberry’s work is one of fascination—each poem is like a glass marble plucked from a jar and held to the light—questions swirl around in deep blue while images are speckled in gold. The central question of the collection might sound something like: what does one do with desire in the face of deception? The many answers are at times playfully flippant (“How gross to be in love, / with someone who walks away”), while other times “heartbreakingly exact.”
Ranging from philosophical ruminations on Nietzsche and references to a galaxy of other artists and poets like Odilon Redon, Linda Gregg, Leonora Carrington, Adrienne Rich, and Francis Bacon to deploying the mundane imagery of Coca Cola bottles, lipstick tubes, and rusted out fence posts—the world for Yarberry is full of a desire to see the beauty beyond, between, beside the horrors that haunt at the lips of our lives. It’s a book of surreal Romanticism; this book is a lyric reckoning. At the heart of To Seem the Stranger, Yarberry is always writing about love—and the many ways that it can both hurt and save us.
S. Yarberry is a trans poet and writer. Their poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in AGNI, Guernica, Tin House, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, jubilat, The Boiler, among others. They are the founder and editor of the little magazine Tyger Quarterly. Smith has their MFA in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis and is now a PhD candidate in literature at Northwestern University where they study William Blake. Their first book of poems, A BOY IN THE CITY, is out now from Deep Vellum.