Reviews - September 2019

Honesty is the best policy

Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.
Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

'mend the world'

A review of Joseph Lease's 'The Body Ghost'

Photo of Joseph Lease (left) by Donna de la Perrière.

The dying father is speaking of his own mother — when he squeezes the hand of his living son, he is squeezing the hand of his own dead mother. The two living bodies are not alone. His son thinks to himself, “his mother / in the / room — / his mother’s / me —” (68). 

A father is at the end of his life. He is dying, and his son is in the room with him as he dies. In the elegy “Stay,” the father holds his son’s hand and says:

“when I 

squeeze 

your

hand I’m

squeezing her

hand”[1]

Razor feminine

A review of 'Small Siren'

Photo of Alexandra Mattraw (left) by Adam Thorman.

If Alexandra Mattraw’s first full-length collection Small Siren is a book of the feminine, we have been misunderstanding the feminine all along, misunderstanding its capacity and complexity. This is the feminine as slant of mind, position of articulation, embodied cerebral. In its linguistic inventions and its distinctive grammars, Small Siren rewrites the intimate registers in which mind encounters world.

If Alexandra Mattraw’s first full-length collection Small Siren is a book of the feminine, we have been misunderstanding the feminine all along, misunderstanding its capacity and complexity. This is the feminine as slant of mind, position of articulation, embodied cerebral.

'The woman is here to stay'

A review of 'A Doll for Throwing' by Mary Jo Bang

Photo of Mary Jo Bang (left) by Yuri Marder.

As she did in her 2004 collection, The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (Grove Press), Mary Jo Bang once again calls on her visual vocabulary — and background as a photographer — to portray various aspects of the Bauhaus, the short-lived German art school: its utopian vision, its Nazi-led shutdown in 1933, and its undeniable legacy. 

As she did in her 2004 collection, The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (Grove Press), Mary Jo Bang once again calls on her visual vocabulary — and background as a photographer — to portray various aspects of the Bauhaus, the short-lived German art school: its utopian vision, its Nazi-led shutdown in 1933, and its undeniable legacy.

Snap! Blow! The consensus of thinking

Though he once lamented that “the novel never had any affection for me,”[1] Abdelkébir Khatibi (El Jadida, 1938–Rabat, 2009) was not known as a poet either. And yet, two distinctive collections of poetry — Le Lutteur de classe à la manière taoïste (Sindbad, 1976) and Aimance (Editions Al Manar, 2003) — conspicuously bookend his career and punctuate his œuvre. 

Though he once lamented that “the novel never had any affection for me,”[1] Abdelkébir Khatibi (El Jadida, 1938–Rabat, 2009) was not known as a poet either. And yet, two distinctive collections of poetry — Le Lutteur de classe à la manière taoïste (Sindbad, 1976) and Aimance (Al Manar, 2003) — conspicuously bookend his career and punctuate his œuvre.