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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.

96 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2023

Phoenix Poets



“With this stunning shapeshifter, Gelman manages to create a remarkable hybrid: a book-length poetic narrative of speculative fiction, an urgent account of a mother/daughter relationship, and a coruscating view of our ecological future. Vexations manages what many of us call literature to do: show us humanity subject to and transcendent of time.”

Douglas Kearney, Phoenix Poets consulting editor and author of Sho


Academy of American Poets: James Laughlin Award

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