What a beguiling, intriguing, and evocative book is Sara Marron’s Call Me Spes.
It entails a Virgilian journey undertaken by its disembodied narrator, an iOS device who gradually becomes aware of the nature of its User’s needs and increasingly cognizant of our ubiquitous human longing for connection. Simultaneously, this elusive narrator overhears a diverse chorus of plaintive voices, and thereby struggles to expand its understanding of people’s complexity and pathos. With an eloquent power, Call Me Spes
charts how our suffering, pain, and loss may be relieved through our hopefulness and yearning for love. Marron’s highly original book offers us a memorable exploration into the impulses, obsessions, and durability of the human heart.
—Maurya Simon, author of The Wilderness,
2019 Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal in Poetry
Sara Marron’s new book brightens the world with innovative lines and animated poems. This cumulative tale is storytelling at its highest—tenderness combined with jazzlike words set against “data mixing” idioms. You don't have to know Dante's Divine Comedy to enjoy the journey because iOS will be your narrator. Current computer language, ie: “pixels” and “coding,” share the page with ancient thrusts of danger, loss, and love. I applaud this writer’s poetic will, her originality, range and dynamic -beyond personality and flair—to become a poetry inventor. Call Me Spes
is a literary adventure.
—Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
The operating system of this book seeks to find poetry in an online universe of eclectic voices, with dramatic monologues popping up from members of a human chorus seeking jobs, love, information, good times, spiritual sustenance. You feel like you’re sitting in on an AA meeting filled with tales of desperation or concealed near a prison pay phone listening to inmates talk to their loved ones. Sara Marron asks, “d0es this 100k like Eng 1 ish?” Call Me Spes
does not always resemble conventional writing, but these inventive texts uncover the real language of contemporary screen-life—“a hopeful/desire code/ hope hope/they/can read/ that code.”
To say that Sara Marron’s Call Me Spes
is a tour of various contemporary Infernos and Purgatorios by way of memory as recorded and as learned by computers in computer language is to suggest the detached and disembodied voice of a machine, but what the computer has recorded is in fact a set of hard lives caught in the process of fragmentation. The computer learns their language, however imperfectly, and tries to apply it to a relation of love addressed to the user. The result is a virtuosic commedia-tragedy: a disembodied yet weeping god’s-eye view of human desperation.
—George Szirtes, poet, translator, T.S. Eliot Prize winner for poetry
In Sara Marron’s Call Me Spes,
technology is a beguiling lover: she lures us out of ourselves, coaxes from us our most intimate secrets, and perfuses our consciousness. She peers out into the inferno, shrewdly observes its poor and ravaged, and spits out words of longing they have yearned for: “come closer/ your fingerprint pressed against me/ only yours …”
—Adeeba Shahid Talukder, Author of Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved
Sara Cahill Marron’s remarkable new book, Call Me Spes,
takes you on a journey through three realms, guided by ones and zeroes. Or perhaps you, the reader, is taking the digital device on its own journey. Written in assured verse, the reader watches what an iPhone watches as it attaches itself to the narrator. As with any journey, it is the people you meet along the way that stay with you. Ms. Marron’s astonishing command of a fresh American vernacular brings an array of nameless people to life, from hospital rooms, commuter trains, buses, and halfway houses. It’s the accuracy of observation and transcriptions that makes the character rise off the page. As the device plays Vergil—or becomes Vergil—it learns what and who the reader learns. Both reader and the guide wind up in a place where hope lives.
—Mark J. Mitchell, author of Roshi San Francisco
and Mirror Games
Call Me Spes
by Sara Cahill Marron
$21.95, paperback, 150 pp