Dear Z: The Zygote Epistles


Product Details

$17.00  $15.64
Etruscan Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

Diane Raptosh's fourth book of poetry, American Amnesiac, (Etruscan Press) was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award and was a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. The recipient of three fellowships in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, she served as the Boise Poet Laureate (2013) as well as the Idaho Writer-in-Residence (2013-2016), the highest literary honor in the state). In 2018 she received the Idaho Governor's Arts Award in Excellence. A highly active ambassador for poetry, she has given poetry workshops everywhere from riverbanks to maximum security prisons. She teaches creative writing and runs the program in Criminal Justice/Prison Studies at The College of Idaho. Her most recent collection of poems, Human Directional, was released by Etruscan Press in 2016.


Dear Z is a book of dynamite. Or rather, "a hot load of humanity ammo." What kind of world will a forming zygote be born into? Should we form a zygote to bring into this kind of world? Raptosh's epistolary apostrophes address the "life speck" nestled in her niece's womb as a "spec life," and their speaker, who nestles in the "mind's womb" of embodiment, is decidedly of two minds about that: "Flesh is the not-me / I peacock around in." She is tender: "the me there is you sized." She is juicy and passionate: "it's me . . . you know: the one with the raw wrath-wantonness issues." But above all she is dazzlingly, breathtakingly acute: pure high-energy verbal swerve. Invoking the moral scaffolding of Moby-Dick and lexes from symbolic logic to hip-hop, no line in the book fails to proliferate on second reading. Raptosh proves a masterful mistress of the subtle pun and proverb; the velocity of her sleights of word will leave the reader replete, and maybe depleted. But it also suggests that a world that can embody a mind like this just might be worth being born into. --Randall Couch, author of Peal (2017)

Zygote, zeitgeist: "What we call world is also--perhaps more accurately--called the without." Dear Z barebacks the language that made us human, showing how it is making us super- (as in in-) human--or at the very least, why a terrestrial translator is needed to usher a "Life Speck," a "spec consciousness," into modern humanity, which begins with Moby-Dick, or, "likely East Africa 200,000 / years ago" and hurtles through our rampage to "the Zombies, who borrowed / from Big Mama Thornton and copied Sam Cooke," landing on "Ameri-pire's endpoint," where "person / comes uncoupled / from the rank of citizen." As Raptosh cautions, "Hang on to the winch of all this shape-shifting!" --Megan Levad, author of What Have I to Say to You(2018)

Raptosh's America is razor-wired by Netflix subscriptions, mass shootings, "mouthy and awful" loving, and the digital grift of a click economy masquerading as a heart but shaped like a blob and hell-bent on commercializing everything in its path. In Dear Z: The Zygote Epistles, we inherit a crushing reckoning with the human experiment, "the self on the one hand, / a cellphone, the other," as we direct our bodies, sometimes feebly, sometimes with a swiped-in grace, "toward the arms / of the moans ...." This is a collection simultaneously anchored to the past and miraculously stretching forward, along the Ethernet cables, into what is entirely, brazenly, Raptosh's time. --J. Reuben Appelman, author of Make Loneliness (2008) and The Kill Jar (2018)