surplus

Trouble the Water

TroubletheWater_FinalFront_largeIm fascinated by the adjective inhuman. Applied to non-human subjects, it is redundant; applied to human ones, it is false by definition. Its the tautology of how a thing is never more or less than itself that guarantees the falsehood. Nothing that is human can be inhuman. And yet even if you resist the most grotesque and oppressive instances of how weve applied the term inhuman (just think of the crimes humans justify against other humans thereby), its difficult to deny the temptation to describe human things as more human or less human, even though I know perfectly well how treacherous this can be.Part of this is just the inevitable consequence of defining things, but part of it is also the desire to preserve the value of some attributes by either affording them a special status or denying that status… read the full review »

 

Archeophonics

ArcheophonicsThe poems in Peter Gizzis most recent book, Archeophonics, operate as an homage to sounds as in the title poem that celebrates echoes, repetitions, and other poems, the archive in the mouth:

Im saying this and its saying meThats how it works, seesaw likeThe archive in the mouth and the archive is on fireThats the storyThe sun and the body and the body in the sun

A trajectory runs through the whole from poems of despair and loss to those of revival as the old language / continues its dialogues / in ordinary dust. The book directly raises questions of how one is to go about the writing of poetry given the collapse of language and the self, as in an initiating quotation from Rimbaud: For todays tourist, orientation is impossible. The first section presents a speaker who is… read the full review »

 

The Most Foreign Country

MostForiegnCountry_Cover.inddIn early 2017 Ugly Duckling Presse will release for the first time in English Alejandra Pizarniks debut collection, The Most Foreign Country, translated by Yvette Siegert. First published in 1955 when Pizarnik was 19, she was later to renounce the book, which remained all but buried, even in Argentina, until it was reprinted in Poesia completa, published in 2000, 28 years after her death. This first book begins precociously self-aware with an epigraph by Rimbaud on adolescence: Ah! the infinite egotism of adolescence, the studious optimism: how the world was full of flowers that summer! Airs and forms dying… and moves into 24 associative poems that demonstrate the influence Pizarniks early work takes from automatic writing. After these poems a suite of six fairly conventional love poems under the section title A Sign Upon Your Shadow conclude the book,… read the full review »

 

The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Garolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All

The Poet The LionThere is a familiar generosity in the title, in the sentences, the tones and range and heart of it all. One expects such from C.D. Wrights every move, and here it is again in her posthumous book of essays focused largely on a brief (usually a half to a full page) appreciation of selected poets that moves centrifugally outward urging the reader to follow up, to return to reading one of the many authors mentioned, to move out into the world as she does. Her personal passion further reading. At the same time, her focus is always on the particular, viewing the world in a word as at the outset where she declares her love for “particular lexicons of particular occupations.”:

My relationship to the word is anything but scientific; it is a matter of faith… read the full review »

 

A Small Story About the Sky

I cannot remember now where I first heard it or from whom, but as a dismissal of poets and poetry it made an impression: a poet is someone who sees a bird outside their window and makes a big goddamned deal out of it. The claim neatly if rudely compresses a whole host of ascribed behavioral errors to the poet-type, who inflates the commonplace and mistakes their experience for something of, you know, value.

However, this assessment works differently when its not a complaint made by someone with no use for poetry but a judgment made by one poet of another. He who sees the bird and consequently makes the big goddamned deal suddenly shifts from someone grandiose to someone provincial, unsophisticated, basic. Unfortunately, this isnt merely a hypothetical possibility; poets do talk about each in these terms (and… read the full review »