Raptosh, Diane: Dear Z: The Zygote Epistles
Dear Z: The Zygote Epistles by Diane Raptosh (Etruscan Press, paperback)
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher Marketing: Written by an aunt to her potential niece, the letters in Dear Z: The Zygote Epistles introduce the "Z" to the wildly vexed work of taking on--and hanging onto selfhood. Shape-shifting from love poems to prose poems, musical spells to logic equations monostiches to math symbols, these letters meditate on self and world--specifically, what personhood, identity and community membership might entail in a perilous age. With these epistles' "epi-pen," the speaker takes her zygote-niece on a virtual tour of the checkered landscape that is 21 st - century America, where Alphabet now is a firm on the Nasdaq, prisons harvest children for profit, and the architectures of authentic personhood are almost always under siege. In the spirit of serious play, Dear Z's narrative arc bends toward hope as some of the poems test out rap and Old English, while others yearn toward blues, rock, and animal-sound. The book casts a wide net of wonderings about self and other, mind and marketplace, language and consciousness: "Is language anguish gauge or laughing gas? / Correct answer: yes," suggests the speaker. Some of the poems take solace in the South Sea Islander from Moby-Dick the character Queequeg, who, traveling through time, implies through his tattooed runes that he wants us all to serve as real-time person assisters. In Dear Z, we are summoned to ask What is one i?, while at the same time we are called to see all citizens as members of "my group"--the pain of others, our severest strand of anguish.