An Introduction to Sarah Giragosian by Virginia Konchan

“Let me tell you about being female” rings, obliquely, the salvo and refrain of Sarah Giragosian’s stunning poem “Missing Person.”  In this deft and original work, we are reminded of the modern adage that men are afraid of being embarrassed by women; women are afraid of being killed by men — like a maleficent deity, the powers invested in the male figure here represented are not just that of panopticon surveillance, threat and violence, but also that of erasure (hence, “Missing Person”).  In a turn reminiscent of Dickinson’s wielded blades and loaded gun, the speaker asks not to “learn benevolence toward [her] enemies” but to be turned into a blade, a blade which, when “folded” at the poem’s closure, bespeaks an unspeakable rage, the rage of being born into a gender systematically brutalized and dominated to the point where the project of becoming invisible (“to practice/ until perfect a perfect ordinariness”) is synonymous with survival.  These powerful evocations alone would solidify this poem’s brilliance, but Giragosian goes a step further, forwarding, in the 12th and 13th stanzas, the poetic argument that the laws against stalking (cops can arrest only if the stalker “acts”) are in fact in defiance of the larger reality at hand — “waiting is acting/ and so is staging and settling in/ for a woman’s undoing.”   While the straightforward reading of these lines is bleak, the blade alluded to at the beginning and end, coupled with the speaker’s reclaimed agency (in defiance of laws that serve the perpetrator), results in a tour de force — the establishment of personhood as not a legal or civic act granted by heteropatriarchy but rather a linguistic one, taking place in the “foxhole” of poetic language, wherein truth is simultaneously revealed and concealed.

Read “Missing Person” by Sarah Giragosian >>