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Sex at Noon Taxes


Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets

80 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / None


  Paperback / 9780807133118 / March 2008

Playfully invading the traditional territories of poetry, Sally Van Doren throws into question form, subject matter, and the sound and meaning of words. The poems in Sex at Noon Taxes mix straightforward narrative, midwestern vernacular, and linguistic ambivalence, embedded in which is a struggle between the mind and the body. While one poem admonishes the reader to "Forget the phonics / of the focal/fecal. Phrase, / fashion, and effuse," in another the speaker says, "I refine my sense of / pain when you touch me / with something blue." A preoccupation with the visual, artists, and artwork seeps through many of these imagistic minitexts.

These poems look for release in descriptions of physical acts and in intricate manipulations of language. Sometimes they find it: "Along comes the sentence to / break up the monotony of possession." More often, though, the questions they pose resist answers: "What extravagant / commodity is sex?" and "Which el- / lipsis omits love?" Gender identification blurs as the poems probe theories of articulation and investigate the geographies of language and love. Through wordplay and word work, these poems travel a tightly crafted sphere of emotions and ideas.


The before took us right up to 
the after, even though under
meant we should not try over,
from being stronger than to,

up shying from its ascent 
in the face of down. I held 
on to you and beside you 
I became with and about.

In our around, the near/far 
could turn away and toward, 
within the without. By my above 
and your below, the wheres and

whens retreated, leaving time 
and space stranded, in off, on out. 

Sally Van Doren has published two previous poetry collections with LSU Press: Sex at Noon Taxes (2008) and Possessive (2012). Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, including American Poet, Boulevard, the Cincinnati Review, the New Republic, and the Southern Review. She has taught poetry at the 92nd Street Y in New York and curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center.

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