Reviews

Release we can invent together

A review of Feng Sun Chen's 'Butcher's Tree'

“The person I love should love me so much she wants to eat me alive. If I’m going to die this is how it should be,” a writer once told me. I didn’t know what this writer meant until I read Feng Sun Chen’s Butcher’s Tree. This poetry collection wants to plunge itself into your guts and nest there. It wants to engage in corporeal, spiritual, and emotional cannibalism. It is the blood dripping down your chin. It offers you not a napkin but a compact mirror in the shape of a napkin. Butcher’s Tree enacts a poetics of confrontation and entanglement with unlikely pairings: intangible and material, stasis and movement, mythic and mortal. These collisions swerve into collusion.

Textures for the mouth and ear

A review of Gale Nelson's 'This Is What Happens When Talk Ends'

Gale Nelson’s most recent book, This Is What Happens When Talk Ends, is his first full-length book in eleven years. In earlier works such as stare decisis and ceteris paribus, both published by Burning Deck, Nelson displays acute and often humorous attention to the sound in language rather than the meaning one may derive from language.

Invisible protest

A review of Caryl Pagel's 'Experiments I Should Like Tried at My Own Death'

Caryl Pagel’s Experiments I Should Like Tried at My Own Death concerns itself with liminal states, the between and beyond that haunts the here and now. It is apparent from the opening lines of “Levitation,” the book’s first poem, that the very experience of having a body is going to be difficult and complex in this world of ghosts and shadows:

Outside of any system

A review of William Corbett's 'Elegies for Michael Gizzi'

Late in September 2010 Michael Gizzi passed away. This shocked all who knew him. He was young, only sixty-one. During the course of his life he lived mostly in New England, and was in the lineage of other great New Englanders such as Frank O’Hara and John Wieners. If you listen to Gizzi’s readings on PennSound you will hear how fine an ear he had, an ear that descended directly from Jack Kerouac’s own demotic taste. Amongst his contemporaries Gizzi found himself with Clark Coolidge, William Corbett, Bernadette Mayer, and Craig Watson. During the 1980s through the 1990s Gizzi lived in Western Massachusetts where he ran a series in the barn behind Arrowhead, Herman Melville’s house in Pittsfield.

On our own recognizance

Miranda Mellis's survivable devastation

Mellis’s newest work in print, The Spokes, takes us on a fantastical journey into the unpredictable afterworld in search of a deceased parent, Silver, whose absence has left a pervasive sense of self-questing perplexity and a fierce thirst for history in her surviving daughter, Lucia. While Lucia’s journey of attempted recuperation provides the primary “plot” device of the story, like in all seriously delicious writing, there is on the one hand what “happens” and, on the other hand, all those indefinable, indismissable sensations that these “happenings” further evoke or induce. I refer here to those sallying waves of prescient feeling whose linguistic footprints and circumference are far more extensive, amorphous, and difficult to map.