Monday, November 02, 2020

Utopia, Utah, Atopia, Sandra Simonds

One poem in Atopia, a book-length poem by Sandra Simonds, contains nothing but questions; the first line (which doubles as the title) asks three: "What is Utopia? Is it heaven? Is it Utah?" Even if it is motivated by the repetition of "Ut-" from "Utopia", the sudden surprise of "Utah" makes the third question a joke with an unexpected twist as its punch line: for whom might Utah be a utopia? But what is now Utah was settled by Brigham Young and the Mormons as their own utopia when they reached the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Given the progressive political themes in Simonds's book, though, this association is surely ironic. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 2 November)

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