PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: Folding Ruler Star Review

From Publishers Weekly

In 1986, Noam Chomsky published a book called Barriers, elaborating a theory of what kinds of grammatical elements can combine, what kinds can’t and how it happens. Kunin’s debut treats language in precisely that way, and also sees it as in a completely synecdochic relationship with its users: language’s parts stand for our wholes and are every bit as mechanical, modelable, automatic, desirous, thwarted, blocked and explosive as people are when they try to approach one another. And there are major constraints here: the entire book is composed in five syllable lines comprising three-line stanzas; every poem is “mirrored by another poem with the same title,” as Kunin notes in a preface. The dual-poem format, coupled with violent, sexualized content (deft but definitely disturbing) gives the impression of very fraught attachments indeed. The book is certainly about having feelings like shame, disgust and grief, but it is also about how they get produced—and registered within a system that may be human in seat, but not in origin: it may be divine. To that end, there are references to Paradise Lost and to Renaissance body part love poetry (the senses here represented by “Five Security Zones”). This is beautiful, complicated poetry from a poet exploring “the device in the/ assumed direction/ of its mouth.”