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66 pages
Cover design: Eric Amling
Author photos: Tramaine George
ISBN 9781988355047
Spring 2017

I have many moods
They turn in systems
I am in the habit of my own diagonals
But I get that the patterns are medley
How the sky is ugly
Even when it’s not

Light is louche and love is not a natural beauty in Sarah Jean Grimm’s disarming and ethereal debut collection of poetry. Soft Focus glares at subjects like internet culture, bodies, beauty products, and American exceptionalism, laying their contents bare. Grimm’s poems lift the veil of femininity and the result is brilliant and raw. A true journey through the psychic landscape of today’s fixations and phobias.


“The speaker of the poems in Soft Focus admires then recoils, looks at you then looks away, flickers on then off—all in an effort to understand and harness her own power. Sometimes that power comes from her body, sometimes it comes from performance, and sometimes it comes simply from defining what she wants, even when it’s unattainable. I love the lens Sarah Jean Grimm sees her world through.”
Chelsea Hodson, author of Pity the Animal

“The speaker in Sarah Jean Grimm’s Soft Focus is a girl always on the verge, blithely post-body but still ‘gutted to know the animal.’ Reading these poems made me feel like I was watching myself in a two-way mirror, about to knock on the glass.”
Niina Pollari, author of Dead Horse

“When I was a kid, my favorite ice cream flavor was the one called ‘rainbow.’ What I most liked about the flavor wasn’t its sweetness, which was like bubblegum made of strawberries and blackberries, but rather its abundance of bright colors, which, spoonful by spoonful, lick by lick, mixed until they merged. Melted rainbow ice cream wasn’t made of a thousand colors any longer, but rather only one: purple, muted, and dark; and yet, its flavor continued to be exactly the same as before. I believe that this is precisely what happens with the poetry of Sarah Jean Grimm. Her verses are explosions of color, but they can also become a melody bitter and black. Whoever dares to read them—to lick them, to chew them—will understand that the sorrow they sometimes contain balances the sweetness of their pleasure. Thus, Soft Focus is like a rainbow. Like a memory of childhood that flickers out. Like a magical, impossible flavor that, without doubt, will turn us into addicts.”
Luna Miguel, author of Stomachs


Bustle – 15 New Poetry Collections To Read During National Poetry Month

Weird Sister – “Grimm’s poems drip with viscous sensuality. A modern-day Plath.”

Brooklyn Poets – Poet of the Week: Sarah Jean Grimm

Vagabond City – “A beautiful, lyrical reminder of the all-too-familiar constraints of womanhood.”

rob mclennan – “A book of uncertainty, perseverance and exploration.”

Brandon Amico – My Favorite Books of Poetry Read in 2017 | “Sarah Jean Grimm’s debut collection is alive with energy that radiates outward through the speakers’ every emotion and thought. Uncomfortable, yearning, content, confident, violent—the mode and tone keep transforming but the energy stays locked in the poems’ cores throughout this collection.”

Sweet – It’s Ok to Talk About Yourself


Peach Mag – Cool Blue Middles; Slutspurt

rob mclennan – Luxe Capacitor

Cosmonauts Avenue – Early Evolution; Crystal Palace; Stray Beast

Brooklyn Poets – Shapewear [Audio & Text]


Maudlin HouseI was so bored before I got born: An Interview with Sarah Jean Grimm

Sarah Jean Grimm

Sarah Jean Grimm is the author of Soft Focus (Metatron, 2017) and the chapbook Hog Lagoon (blush, 2023). She was a founding editor of Powder Keg Magazine and currently edits the small press After Hours Editions.