“What gives us the right to listen to someone else’s body?”—Alisha Dietzman, from Sweet Movie
A National Poetry Series winner selected by Victoria Chang, Sweet Movie confronts romantic and religious masochism to interrogate spiritual, sexual, and moral agency
Sweet Movie’s love poems and ekphrasis echo splintered versions of the same question: how do we navigate a world where the expectations of our performance—our presentation, our means of existence—are dictated by the viewers themselves?
Mirroring the uncertain, unstable tenor of Dušan Makavejev’s controversial avant-garde film Sweet Movie (1974), the voices in Sweet Movie are equal parts docile, feverish, and violent. This collection reimagines a feminist approach to religious masochism to explore the ways women are denied agency by both their faith communities and by outsiders.
Dietzman’s poems move through locations across Central Europe and the American South. Each new landscape informs the next: Memphis appears in Berlin in the form of a dead deer, and Southern syntax haunts an elegy for Gustavs Klucis.
The inspired poems from Sweet Movie use film and art to break open seeing. What results are deeply insightful and spacious poems of faith, displacement, and love. Perpetually observant, Sweet Movie guardedly but desperately consumes a world that has become unsettling and uncertain.
About the Author
Alisha Dietzman is a PhD candidate in Divinity focusing on aesthetics and ethics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, supported by a grant from the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Her chapbook, Slow Motion Something For No Reason, was the editors’ choice selection for the Tomaž Šalamun Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, and The Iowa Review. Raised between Columbia, South Carolina, and Prague, Czech Republic, Dietzman now works as a bartender and server in Sacramento, California.
“A rich and thought-provoking collection. Poetry lovers and Dietzman fans will want to read these poems over and over again and can find something new to enjoy or admire each time.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“The poems in Sweet Movie are wrought with beauty and being in the world.” —Victoria Chang, from the foreword
“‘I didn’t expect the desert, its longform,’ writes Alisha Dietzman in her lustrous debut Sweet Movie, a collection centered around ekphrasis. TV, movies, the self, even art and religion, serve as mediums on which the speaker casts the light of consciousness in her search for meaning.” —Quan Barry, author of Auction: Poems
“A taut and haunting book of love and faith when all around us hate and nihilism crowd in.” —Philip Metres, author of Shrapnel Maps
“Alisha Dietzman is a love poet for the twenty-first century, a fierce, devoted sensualist who feeds on aesthetic experience. . . . Sweet Movie [is] a book on the run—from men, from religion, from family, from legacies of violence against women—and it wants you along for the ride. And it’s thrilling.” —Katie Peterson, author of Life in a Field: Poems