Reviews

Quiet demands

A review of Sarah Gridley's 'Loom'

Cleveland, Ohio, poet Sarah Gridley’s Loom (Omnidawn, 2013), is composed in three sections — “Shadows of the World Appear,” “This Heart is Dependent on the Outside World,” and “Half-Sick of Shadows.” Composed around Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1842 ballad “The Lady of Shalott,” Gridley’s book — one of the strongest poetry collections I’ve seen in some time — opens with a single line on the first page of the first section: “Still the lady could come to her senses. Cool as a nude or a pressed flower.”

Notes on the discursive

A review of Susan Gevirtz's 'Coming Events'

Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void.[1]A common problem in the critical analysis of experimental writing appears to be an insistence on systematizing a writer’s creative efforts without affording due diligence to that selfsame individual’s specific relation to a/the general social narrative. Leslie Scalapino argued that even a “reconstituting of the general social narrative may be a radical change in expression arising from one’s separation from social convention.”[2]

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.