The Albertine Workout by Anne Carson and Loom by Sarah Gridley
Poetic responses to the world include, of course, responses to other art forms, ekphrastic poetry in response to a painting or sculpture, and responses to works of literaturepoems, novels, or essays. Poets have often taken up dialogue with significant writers from the past, as ways of acknowledging or purging influence, of ventriloquism, of a search for origin or the emptiness in its steadfor multiple and I suspect, mysterious reasons that produce a variety of different texts. For me, the strange power and excitement of reading closely while writing occurs as ones own lines warp or skew in unexpected directionsin part, taking on the other and enlarging vocabulary, tone, perception, access to sounds, sentences, obsessions.
The possibilities are multiple and can be engaging and demanding for readers who must juggle, switch, remember, assess, at least two singular texts created by authors/readers… read the full review »
Performative Criticism and Against Conceptual Poetry
I recently participated in a panel discussion on the topic of performative criticism at REVERSE, the Copenhagen International Poetry Festival held at their LiteraturHaus. My co-panelists were Danish-Norwegian critic Susanne Christensen, Swedish critic and poet Magnus William-Olsson, and Danish writer Kamilla Lftstrm. The conversation was reasonably lively, focusing on performative criticism as a critical phenomenon, most often seen in the wild: critics deploying what could be called, for lack of a better handle, themself as part of their critical apparatus. The choice of the grammatically incorrect singular is of course intentional, for the self that is critically performed is a self whose unity comes forth in the purported disjunct (or performed disjunctification) between the person and the critic (or the author as I and the authorial I). So far, so postmodern-y good. Theres a certain metafictional-metaphysical comfort in… read the full review »
Life in a Box is a Pretty Life
In Dawn Lundy Martins challenging, evocative, necessary new book Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books), she offers smart, frank, actual living thought that seeks to destabilize and illustrate some of the ways that black female subjectivity continues to be framed by mis/conceptions and mis/representations of the black female body. And what do we really know about the black female body? Though never explicitly posited in her book, this question floats as a central premise around her pieces and requires us to consider the ways that representational violence, colonial history, and ongoing gender and racial prejudice continue to shape psychic realities today. Through her strong engagement with visual arts, Martin also furthers the incredible dialogue that authors such as Tisa Bryant, Deborah Richards, Urayon Noel, and Roberto Tejada are also contributing… read the full review »
the L notebook
As temperatures hover in the upper 80s, summertimes fantasy of ease takes over, gives rise to a self that, in lieu of work, throws on flip-flops and a swimsuit and heads to the pool. This summerself, only partly satisfied by hours under the shade of an umbrella reading trashy novels, contemplates a fling with that gorgeous creature sunning across the patio. In such a mood the summerself might think romance too much workunless, that is, one was able to keep the pleasure simple, physical, charming. But is this possible, the summerself wonders, shifting in her lounge to get a better view: the dangerous ones start out easy and charming but then maneuver into mystery and complexity, creating the kind of bliss that does more than just please. Such experiences alter us.
End of the Sentimental Journey: A Mystery Poem
I am old, I leave the house less and less, I dont go to as many poetry readings as I used to. But I read a lot of poetry—as a reader might hope a reviewer would. But readers of poetry reviews, i.e. yall, are not like readers of movie reviews; the latter might see a few movies a year, and the former are likely reading as many books as the reviewer. Similarly, the average movie-goer is probably not too concerned with the film shes currently directing. So I think it is safe and fair to say that whatever anxiety the poetry reviewer feels is akin to the anxiety of the poetry reader, akin to the poetry performer, akin to the poetry writer. I think all but a few of us feel some anxiety about our preferences, our “likes” and… read the full review »