Sara Wallace :: The Rival

Winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize

(The University of Utah Press, 2015)

Book cover The Rival
In The Rival, Sara Wallace takes her readers on an intimate journey through a woman’s solitary, surreal childhood and her brutal, sexually fraught first marriage to the conflicted redemption she finds in motherhood and a second chance at love. In this debut poetry collection, Wallace reveals how closely emotional devastation and transcendence can coexist. The Rival is sensuous, darkly humorous, and frequently luminous in its unflinching exploration of the inner life.

University of Utah Press Click here to order from The University of Utah Press: ref/collection/upcat/id/1952 Click here to order The Rival on Amazon: Rival-Agha-Shahid-Prize-Poetry/ dp/1607814234

Praise for The Rival:

Sara Wallace is a poet of quiet extremes. The poetry is serious or breezy or written with the high art of Mozart or Bach, and then it veers casually into the everyday when it must. Wallace is an extraordinary poet, one who sees and feels everything, and brings it to us beautiful and new. In The Rival she understands the deep mystery of the human experience, and plays wildly and crafts seriously right there between reality and imagination where poetry is. These are unforgettable poems.

–Laura Kasischke, author of The Infinitesimals

Always in motion through a landscape in restless mimesis of the speaking self, these poems declare “I’m going to take you as far as I can. And Wallace’s unabashedly naked words lay bare hidden urgencies in that quest to arrive at some always-shifting center.

“This life, so redolent and stark/you’d split open if you stopped,” she tells us. This is a stunning debut collection.

–Peter Cooley


Five Star Review FIVE STAR review on Goodreads :

The book’s structure reminds me a little of Sharon Olds’ great book, The Dead and the Living, in the way that it’s divided into sections by the progression of time and changing places. Wallace’s poems also have in common with Olds’ work an urgency in her voice that seems distinctive because it’s always one on a constant search for meaning in the static of the events of the most emotional and painful of days in her experience. The narratives in Wallace’s poems are fragmented, which is unlike Olds, of course. Wallace’s poems tend to be more meditative than Olds as well. Wallace uses rhetorical repetition of key words or phrases with great skill, and always, no matter how fragmented the narrative, poem after poem evokes difficult emotions. Her vivid images are tied this emotional world. I read this book in one long sitting because each poem contains a sense of urgent searching. It felt to me as though, while the poet hadn’t resolved her search through her experiences yet, she’d been led down a somewhat different path in the last poem and maybe the next path would bring some entirely new and real closure. I had to find out what came next.

Gill on May 8, 2015

Five Star Review FIVE STAR review on Amazon :

My latest favorite poet. Brevity is packed with stunning details. Wallace accesses a full range of emotions from anger to tenderness. Her fearlessness and honesty are matched with sensuality. Add to that keen observations of the natural world and elements of surprise. Poems that you want to keep re-reading.

– By Jean Lind on June 11, 2015