Reviews

'Spastic messiah / erotic daughter'

On Petra Kuppers's 'PearlStitch'

Photo at left courtesy of Petra Kuppers.

“Initiate, I greet you. / Claim back the beloved’s bodies, for ourselves,”[1] Petra Kuppers writes in PearlStitch, her sensual, rhizomatic new book.[2] “We stand, and sit, and lie down my hand resting on your foot your hand in mine / head on shoulder” (51). Kuppers’s second full-length book of poems — which combines queer, crip, anticapitalist, anticolonial, and eco- poetics — intertwines ritual with epic, eros with documentation, and speculation with life writing. 

“Initiate, I greet you. / Claim back the beloved’s bodies, for ourselves,”[1] Petra Kuppers writes in PearlStitch, her sensuous, rhizomatic new book.[2] “We stand, and sit, and lie down my hand resting on your foot your hand in mine / head on shoulder” (51).

Haven't worked out the particulars

On instructions, position papers, and finding our way

Photo of Andrea Lawlor (right) by Steve Dillon.

Like so many of us who feel most at home in books, I’ve turned to books in Trump times. The one morning ritual that has stuck with me since November 9 is finding a poem over coffee that I can cling to for the rest of the day. I make it my guiding light, looking back on it throughout the day and receiving its text as instructions.

'The lip of a paragraph'

On Renee Gladman's 'Calamities'

Photo of Renee Gladman (left) courtesy of Wave Books.

On the last page of Renee Gladman’s Calamities is a thick line drawn upon its lower portion. Beginning from the leftmost part of the page, it extends out to the right where it is cut off by the righthand side of the page. The line is one of Gladman’s principal preoccupations; its depiction here, as one abruptly stopped by the edge of the page, seems to me to epitomize the unrepresentability of a line.

On the last page of Renee Gladman’s Calamities is a thick line drawn upon its lower portion. Beginning from the leftmost part of the page, it extends out to the right where it is cut off by the righthand side of the page. The line is one of Gladman’s principal preoccupations; its depiction here, as one abruptly stopped by the edge of the page, seems to me to epitomize the unrepresentability of a line.

The author and authority

Daniil Kharms and the Russian Absurd

“Like Gogol’s independent nose, Kharms’s nudge becomes shove as he punctuates discourses on faith or sex with grotesqueries, including the ultimate grotesque, death.” Major Kovalyov’s nose as depicted in The Metropolitan Opera in New York’s production of ‘The Nose,’ October 2013. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

As some of us are coming to know, the absurd may be characteristic of authoritarian regimes. If so, then the reading of Daniil Kharms is quite urgent in our day. When all norms are violated, it may be that only the absurdist pen can accurately swath through the fuzzy edges of alternative facts and fake news. Russian Absurd is thus a book for our age. With a devoted following in Russia and a growing cult of readers in the United States, writer Daniil Kharms (pen name of Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachev, 1905–1942) is achieving a fame that would have surprised him.

As some of us are coming to know, the absurd may be characteristic of authoritarian regimes. If so, then the reading of Daniil Kharms is quite urgent in our day. When all norms are violated, it may be that only the absurdist pen can accurately swath through the fuzzy edges of alternative facts and fake news. Russian Absurd is thus a book for our age. 

Menacing archives

A review of Jennifer Scappettone's 'The Republic of Exit 43'

Trucks dump garbage at Fresh Kills Landfill, May 1973. Photo by Chester Higgins with the EPA, via Wikimedia Commons.

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations. 

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations.