Transfer of Qualities
I find myself wanting to tell you contradictory things about Martha Ronks Transfer of Qualities. Not because I am of mixed-mind about the book, but because, upon dwelling, contradictory forces show themselves to drive the work, unleashing its power. This might give you the impression that the work is chaotic, jagged, jutting out in disagreement with itself. Let me make clear that this is anything but the case. Transfer of Qualities is one of the most seamless books I have read in quite some time. Organized in three sections (“Objects,” “People,” “Transferred Stories”), this cross-genre book builds from the one-paragraph prose poem through longer forms of sequenced lyric meditations, and then, into 2-3-page personal narratives. Mirroring this arc of form, Ronk composes the first prose poem as a single, pronoun-less sentence that focuses on the most ordinary and… read the full review »
Translation by Patrick Greaney
Afterword by Charles Bernstein
Have you ever killed anyone?
This was the question a journalist recently reported asking a convicted serial killer. Not to drag biography into it, but criminal lawyers know better than to ask such stupid questions. For, not to drag cogitography into it, but who amongst us has not killed someone, or, better still, anyone. Assuming, as we must assume, the proper collective historical perspective.
But first, to drag biography into it: Heimrad Bcker was an Austrian artist, poet, and editor. Born in 1925, Bcker was a propaganda officer in the Hitler Youth; at 18, he joined the Nazi Party. In 1968, Bcker began collecting quotations and documentary materials about the Shoah, presenting these materials as concrete and visual poetry. Seascape, a brief documentary account of a U-boats failure to rescue three Norwegian sailors,… read the full review »
Hymn for the Black Terrific
Hymn for the Black Terrific is three tiny books bound together. The first section, “Oiseau Rebelle,” is as close as Petrosino comes to a miscellany, in that its poems dont bear an obvious relationship to each other; the second section, “Mulattress,” is a ten-poem showcase of her manipulation of select lines from that gifted hypocrite Thomas Jefferson; the third, “Turn Back Your Head & There Is The Shore,” depicts the attentions of “the eater,” a figural stand-in for the very gifts of appetite and attention altogether. Three tiny books bound together. Does that sound dismissive? It shouldnt. For each is light enough to whip by at the speed of thought, dense enough to achieve percussive consequence, shaped well enough to defy resistance. Three tiny books, a bundle of airfoil projectiles, mercilessly designed and brutally employed. A sort of… read the full review »
A mysterious package containing a strange Bible is delivered to a village and brings with it an immense sense of wretched misery and despair. A pair of exhausted lovers continuously—agonizingly—falls out of love. A young girl is abused by careless, angry elders and the butcher develops a hideous rash. A prose exploration of suffering and time, Janice Lees latest collection Damnation moves with poetic elegance and intensity, utilizing narrative elements to examine how dailiness can house biblical Judgment. In her text, the apocalypse is hardly a break with history or the catastrophic launching of a new order. It is instead the profuse stagnation of what we are already trapped in: Damnation is persistence.
Lees Damnation is not a “fun” or “entertaining” read, but it is magnetic and immersive. Whether or not you are coming off the edge of… read the full review »
Hello, the Roses
As a term, Empathy, from the Greek em-pathos, in-feeling, is the translation that Edward Titchener, a psychologist working at the turn of the nineteenth century, gave to the German Einfhlungsympathetic understanding, or, literally, feeling into anothers subject-position. Since the late 18th century the concept has had more, and then less, and now more attention in the fields of psychology and aesthetics. As affect, as one of the ways we act and are acted upon, this state of being has likely always been with us. It comes upon us unwilled, but we also consider it a state that can be cultivated, practiced, and theorized. The desired end of such projective feeling is to understand another from his or her perspective.
Such feeling into anothers subject-position on the one hand seems like a happy answer to the selfs well-worried solipsism. However,… read the full review »