Alexandra Mattraw

Runes in the noise menagerie

A review of Claire Marie Stancek's 'Oil Spell'

“… to find logical narrative in the ‘masscrash’ mindset … would be to yield to the grammatical hierarchy that engenders dehumanizing social structures — structures that objectify human subjects and contaminate land with oil.” Above: NASA Satellite photo of an oil spill on the Mississippi Delta, via Wikimedia Commons.

For Stancek, “conformism” refers to the linear patterning of English grammar as well as today’s most popular experimental poetics: she subverts all trends with poems that feel entirely new. Other topics include industrial and media pollution, covert drone wars, heterosexist oppression, and police brutality. Stancek montages visceral imagery related to each of these subjects throughout, implying that all such problems stem from the hierarchical social ordering inherent to the oil that fuels our industrialized minds and the greed that borders them.

“[N]ight escape[s] from the menagerie / song fragment”[1] of Claire Marie Stancek’s searing second book, Oil Spell. With occultist “opening noise” and irritated lyric, Stancek warns that “darkness spreads fucks        up borders between things” (8).

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