Commentaries

Girls, Girls, Girls

Morrison and Buck on every would-be Miss America

Yedda Morrison, girl scout nation (Displaced Press, 2008), 100 pp.; Marie Buck, Life & Style (Patrick Lovelace Editions, 2009), 54 pp.—How do you make a girl? In their different ways, these two books address that question. Divided into three individually paginated sections, Yedda Morrison’s book functions as a kind of triptych.

Don't keep score

A few words on Kevin Varrone's forthcoming 'Box Score'

The deep relationship between baseball and language has been remarked many times, but rarely if ever has it been enacted in the writing itself. Kevin Varrone’s Box Score is that enactment. Moment by moment, innings (as it were) of prose poems throw the ultimate linguistic eephus. Play by play wordplay struck by bits of ash verbal industry. No open-field poem can find the strike zone. It must go awry and in doing so presents a perfect game—rare but imaginable, and worth staying ‘til the end.

Nakahara Chuya: Four Poems Newly Englished

Translations from Japanese by Jerome Rothenberg & Yasuhiro Yotsumoto

[The project to translate Nakahara Chuya into English continued recently (July 2014) with a meeting in Yamaguchi, Japan, of a number of interested poets & translators – plans to be announced.  My own collaborative work with Yasuhiro Yotsumoto will hopefully continue from this point onward, for which the following poems & comments are only a beginning.  (J.R.)]

Uncommon social bodies

Dickison and Staiti on disposals, on retrievals

Steve Dickison, Disposed (The Post-Apollo Press, 2007), 49 pp.; Erika Staiti, In The Stitches (Trafficker Press, 2010), 39 pp.—What is the significance of symmetry as a manifestation of proceduralism? This is one of the questions Dickison's book and Staiti's chapbook address in relation to private and public, personal and social, bodies. For Dickison, the penchant for writing is, as it was for a tradition preceding and succeeding Freud, inescapable from neuroses modified into acceptable behaviors. These are posed against another meaning of disposed, those “others” for whom English is a second language (“may I use please your phone to carry some speech?”), for whom law and order is meaningful force (“what brand of people come invested in/plastic handcuffs?”), so easily reduced to the noun (disposal), the excrement of the social.

Cecily Nicholson's 'From the Poplars'

City of New Westminster is one of several cities and municipalities comprising the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), also called Metro Vancouver. Named by Queen Victoria in 1859 after her favourite part of London and hence nicknamed the Royal City, New Westminster was the first Canadian city West of the Great Lakes. The image above shows Poplar Island situated in the Fraser River, with New Westminster built on the West (left) bank of the river. Poet and activist Cecily Nicholson's second book of poetry, From the Poplars (Talon 2014), documents the history of this small depopulated island as traditional Qayqayt land, a former reserve, a smallpox quarantine zone, a ship-building site during the First World War, a base for the logging industry, now unused and lush with trees, in the present moment of the city’s waterfront redevelopment to expand retail and residential space.