by Meredith Phipps.
CW: implied sexual assault, sexual allegories, allusions to fantasy violence
In “passive protagonist,” Isaura Ren creates a sprawling dialogue, both interweaving and contrasting excerpts from “How to Write a Fantasy Story” by N.A. Turner with the speaker’s understanding and embodiment of their own life and their place within it. As each line falls into place, succinctly and spaciously within each tercet, the complexity of the conversation between the speaker and the text grows, creating a tension that never falls. This tension is what gives the final tercet of the poem so much resonance as the speaker declares the story of their body on their own terms, doing away with convention as they arrive at the point of authorship.
The juxtaposition of convention and experience that Isaura Ren accomplishes in such a brief piece is stunningly resonant, leaving the reader to grapple with the implications of understanding and negotiating one's own life within an inherited canon and that canon’s set of rules. Characteristic of their body of work, Isaura Ren manages all of this complexity with a beauty of language and use of space that feels like breathing, deeply, in.