Review of Sarah Rosenthal’s LIZARD

Sarah Rosenthal. Chax Press, $17 paperback (80p) ISBN 9780986264054

Lizard stalks
images so vivid
they cut. A
friend in fuschia
saying let’s try
a new process.
(Lizard’s wearing
orange, it
compliments her
natural green.)
We’ll argue. (It’s
more elaborate but
that’s the gist.) It
will make our ideas
            I like the
streaks on you,
tour toned

Bay Area poet and editor Sarah Rosenthal’s second full-length poetry collection, following Manhatten (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009), is Lizard (CHAX Press, 2016), a sequence of untitled, short-lined lyric sketches that accumulate into a book-length suite. Deft and quick, the poems in Lizard allow Rosenthal such speed and accuracy in movements both small and sweeping. As she writes: “I eat my sister. No / one cares because / we’re not pronouns, / says Lizard. We’re / not names. I’m not / Lizard and this is / not a magic act. This / is real, tongue so / long and muscular, / toes scaling verticals, / third eye parietal [.]” Utilizing the lizard as part character and part spirit-animal for the poems, she is able to write through fact, fable and metaphor, held together through a central figure that, as she writes:

Mostly eats the living.
On account of her
eyes. They see what
moves. She stalks
the world nude, I
want to say reveals
the world’s nudity.
Want to say, we’re
all that emperor.
that lonely thing
with mirrors

(June 2016)

Purchase Lizard HERE.  

Reviewer bio: Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of nearly thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. In March, 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include notes and dispatches: essays (Insomniac press, 2014), The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks, 2014). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books, The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( In fall 2015, he was named “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and recently became a regular contributor to both the Drunken Boat and Ploughshares blogs. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at