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A Reading of "On Homelessness" from 'Fourteen Hills 21.1'

From Elizabeth Robinson, who once dedicated a book of her poetry to "Sasquatch, who does exist," comes a poem about similarly unreal figures existing in a realistic landscape. Or rather, figures becoming unreal through a disruption of physiological needs that tend to reinforce and stabilize social identities. Instead of being defined by where they live, what they ate recently, or how their loved ones are doing, those stricken with the condition of homelessness in the poem are "socks that a body threw away before washing" or "sentences that tell the reader where to go, but more often what / services will be denied." Combining these decentralized images with sparse, unmoored lines on the page, Robinson achieves the effect of portraying the symptom of contemporary homelessness as a sentence to a purgatorial stasis often reinforced by the letter of the law. One can only hope that amid all the forms of identity erasure, through "endlessly lost i.d.s." and jail time for "Failure to Appear,” Robinson's repeating motive of "homelessness is" offers some type of focused centralization of homelessness as poetic subject, and therefore valuable in spite of its lack of material gain.

To read the entirety of "On Homelessness," you may purchase Fourteen Hills 21.1 from Small Press Distribution.

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