Reviews

On drowning

A review of 'I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women'

A defining moment in the life cycle of any avant-garde movement is its declaration of aesthetic victory over the preceding team of textual innovators. These declarations of victory have proliferated over the twentieth century and into our own, ever since various modernist poets went to war against the previous century’s Romantic avant-garde’s elevation of ordinary vernaculars, “the real language of men” and “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, recollected in tranquility.”

'It feels like painting a larger picture'

A review of 'Try a Little Time Travel'

As the title poem of Natalie Lyalin’s Try a Little Time Travel makes clear, this book is not concerned with telephone booths or Tardises, but rather with “time travel” as a mental process. The reader is exhorted to “Close your eyes, // And think, Grandmother, / I’m coming to you, live!” (6). In these poems, time travel becomes a method of inquiry, of digging through the shifting sands of memory and desire to discover imaginary truths about imaginary pasts and futures. Of her own journey in “Try a Little Time Travel,” the speaker reports:

I learned:
I was not evil,
Fjords made a screeching sound when formed,
G-d is not vengeful,
My uncle smothered someone in an open field. (7) 

Translation's lucky hand

A review of 'Fortino Sámano'

To grasp this amazing book — this doubled and redoubled book — is indeed to hold a lucky hand. To read the words of Hogue and Gallais translating Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy is not just to devour a long poem. It is also to receive a device for reading poetry and for exploring the possibilities of lyric address, for opening spaces in and between two languages, French and English.

A walking proposition

On Pam Rehm's 'The Larger Nature'

Pam Rehm is a poet whose work consistently abounds with a quiet intensity. The nature of this intensity might best be described, as in her opening poem, “Another Dimension,” as an “evident immersion / in another dimension” (4), a “diligent seclusion” being the necessary beginning to such an immersion.

Ongoing 'Planisphere' notebook

At right: John Ashbery. Photo by Arielle Brousse.

1.

People are much too free with the phrase “a great book of poetry.” They think if the book has ten really good pieces in it then it’s a great book.

They don’t talk that way about albums. For it to be a great album it can’t just have some hits. You have to consider the not-hits, too.