Reviews

Curiosity and rarity

A review of Cynthia Cruz's 'Wunderkammer'

Photo of Cynthia Cruz (right) by Steven Page.

In her latest collection of poetry, Wunderkammer, Cynthia Cruz sets the stage for her readers with the first poem, Nebenwelt. In German, this term translates literally to “world next to/beside.” Paul Celan is given credit for coining the adjective nebenweltlich in his writing, using it to describe “a level of experience beside that posited as ‘real,’ namely a world of metaphorical transformation, specifically that of poetic language.”

The brain, a kaleidoscopic disco[1]

In her latest collection of poetry, Wunderkammer, Cynthia Cruz sets the stage for her readers with the first poem, Nebenwelt. In German, this term translates literally to “world next to/beside.” Paul Celan is given credit for coining the adjective nebenweltlich in his writing, using it to describe “a level of experience beside that posited as ‘real,’ namely a world of metaphorical transformation, specifically that of poetic language.”[2] The title Nebenwelt appears five times throughout this collection, as if to remind us that these poems enact an otherworldly landscape and a kind of diving into the unknown. Through the multivalent forces of Cruz’s language and metaphor, these poems transcend reality.

Poet in profile

The scar lit district of Jenny Zhang

The Year of the Ram is the year to celebrate the Black Sheep. Jenny Zhang is the New Girl fed up with the Old World crap sheet.

A vital territory

'Idylliad' by Elizabeth Savage

Deborah Poe: In Lyric Postmodernisms, Nathanial Mackey evokes Zukofsky’s lower limit of speech (or “check,” as Mackey refers to it) and upper limit of music in consideration of the lyric. Mackey writes:

Our recent turn toward promoting check over enchantment wants to forget lyric’setymology, as though the art might arrive at a point where there were no strings attached. But strings are always attached, even in the most thoroughgoing doubt or disenchantment.[1]

In Idylliad, Savage engages but inverts the lyric and pastoral, disrupting our expectations of those traditional modes. In doing so, she more deeply engages doubt and (dis)enchantment relative to ideas of property and territory as articulated through poverty and war (the strings).

Toward an embodied critique

A review of Louis Bury's 'Exercises in Criticism'

Early this spring, I perched on top of a table (it was the only space left) to hear Fred Moten talk about “Blackness and Poetry.” The room was teeming with poets, critics, academics, and students. At the end of the talk, a question about the contemporary “mania” or “fetish for rule-based constraint-based poetry in a lot of poetry circles” was asked. More specifically, Nada Gordon wanted to know what this contemporary mania for rules might be a symptom of.

Moving image, moving text, never past, look in mirror (repeat)

A review of Lisa Robertson's 'Cinema of the Present'

Lisa Robertson’s epic, nothing-quite-like-it Cinema of the Present reads and screens like its title. I daresay it is a textual film. On paper. But moving. You often hear about “poetic” or “text-films” but on film. But what about the opposite? Films on paper. After you’re done reading it you will feel like you’ve just watched a film. The images will come back to haunt and unhaunt you over and over. You’ll remember and then you’ll remember you just read a book, not a film.