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The Body Problem
poems by Margaret Wack

Winner of The 2021 Orison Chapbook Prize


Orison Books
paper  /  38 pp.  /  $14.00
ISBN: 978-1-949039-40-5

Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
952-223-8373  /
Publication Date: March 7, 2023




The voice in Margaret Wack's remarkable debut chapbook is drenched in myth but also with the knowledge that all myths must fade in time, like every body, like every culture—like humanity itself. A vatic magnetism pulls the reader in as these poems reckon with impermanence and the impending end of the Anthropocene, but also unapologetically revel in the numinous viscerality of each present moment, insisting on making new songs to the end.




"Visceral, vivid, voracious—what struck me most in Margaret Wack’s stunningly lush The Body Problem is how organic it is. Organic in the way of the densest heart of an old growth forest, where green bubbles up from decay and wood sinks into soil in a relentless cycle of wild abundance. 'You must be born each instant and rot each hour,' Wack declares as her images build on themselves like amino acids, proliferate like cells, and transform like 'flowers of fungi will bloom upon your bones.' Just as life, in all its vast variety, is composed of the same handful of elements, these poems are made of timeless ingredients—blood and honey, bone and ash, the flint and fire of fairytale and myth—yet each blossoms into a uniquely beautiful organism. And together, they form a mesmeric world, teeming with ruin and rapture."
—Erin Rodoni

"The Body Problem is a field guide to a world fluttering between promise and ruin, where ripeness is always turning the corner into rot. There is too much to harvest, too much to hunger for. Like Tantalus, we reach and reach, but 'cannot possibly close our hands upon the sweetness of it.' And the problem with time is that there is never enough of it. The problem with the body is that it will inevitably 'rot like a peony, over-plump and full of starving ants.' So be it. If these poems feel timely right now—if it feels like the world is pulsing with losses beyond calculation—Wack reminds us that some problems are timeless. We are no more or less cursed than we've ever been, no more or less desperate for beauty or survival. We steady ourselves with myth, and we