Longlist, National Book Awards 2023 for Poetry

book cover for Vexations, by Annelyse Gelman
ISBN 9780226826110
University of Chicago Press
Author photo of Annelyse Gelman (Photo credit: Tonatiuh Ambrosetti)
Annelyse Gelman

Annelyse Gelman’s work has been published in The New Yorker, BOMB Magazine, PEN Poetry Series, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

A mother and daughter journey together through a strange speculative world in this experimental book-length poem.

Annelyse Gelman’s book-length poem Vexations is a surreal, glitchy meditation on empathy, ecology, and precarity. Throughout the book winds a narrative about a mother and daughter as they move through a world of social and economic collapse in search of a post-capitalist safe haven. All the while, they also navigate a condition that affects the daughter’s empathic abilities, making her vulnerable to emotional contagion.

Vexations is titled and structured after Erik Satie’s composition of the same name, a piece that requires patience, endurance, and concentration from both its audience and its players. Similarly, Gelman’s Vexations employs repetition and variation to engage the reader’s attention. Hers is an ambient poetry, drawing on the aesthetic qualities of drone music and sampling voices and sounds to create a lush literary backdrop filled with pulsing psychedelic detail.