“What gives us the right to listen to someone else’s body?”—Alisha Dietzman, from Sweet Movie
A National Poetry Series winner selected by Victoria Chang, Sweet Movie confronts romantic and religious masochism to interrogate spiritual, sexual, and moral agency
Sweet Movie’s love poems and ekphrasis echo splintered versions of the same question: how do we navigate a world where the expectations of our performance—our presentation, our means of existence—are dictated by the viewers themselves?
Mirroring the uncertain, unstable tenor of Dušan Makavejev’s controversial avant-garde film Sweet Movie (1974), the voices in Sweet Movie are equal parts docile, feverish, and violent. This collection reimagines a feminist approach to religious masochism to explore the ways women are denied agency by both their faith communities and by outsiders.
Dietzman’s poems move through locations across Central Europe and the American South. Each new landscape informs the next: Memphis appears in Berlin in the form of a dead deer, and Southern syntax haunts an elegy for Gustavs Klucis.
The inspired poems from Sweet Movie use film and art to break open seeing. What results are deeply insightful and spacious poems of faith, displacement, and love. Perpetually observant, Sweet Movie guardedly but desperately consumes a world that has become unsettling and uncertain.