Reviews

A study in how we define the world outside

A review of Maxine Chernoff's 'Without'

The cover photograph of Maxine Chernoff’s latest book of poems, Without, shows a scruffy western American landscape in the hallucinatory amber light of late afternoon. The black shadow of a porch cuts a geometric shape across the landscape, framing leafless trees and twisted stumps; in the distance lies a low hill covered in chaparral-like vegetation. The photograph, by Carolyn Guinzio, suggests a dry land lacking the moisture needed to sustain growth: it is a landscape without.

Ryan Eckes's American poetry

A review of Ryan Eckes's 'Old News'

In her essay “Against Transparency: From the Radiant Cluster to the Word as Such,” Marjorie Perloff argues that poetic imagery can’t avoid reproducing the “videation of our culture.”[1] Noting Charles Bernstein’s concept of “‘imagabsorption’ — the ‘im-position of the image on the mind’ from without” (79). She attributes this condition to the conjoined histories of marketing, public relations, and propaganda in twentieth-century America.

Between bibetgekess and 'but …'

A review of Lyn Hejinian's 'The Book of a Thousand Eyes'

Writing about Lyn Hejinian’s The Book of a Thousand Eyes is like talking about someone else’s dreams. The poems are peculiar and uncanny, full of surprising leaps and linkages that one might expect from a book written in the dark.[1] Such is the stuff of dreams.

We peer through various portals

A review of Gail Scott's 'The Obituary'

Gail Scott’s The Obituary occupies and animates the tantalizing space of the in-between. Between English and French, poetry and prose, lurid gutter noir and stylish Hitchcockian thriller, Scott’s novel (though it is in some sense an injustice to characterize it simply as a novel) inhabits these elusive gaps, experimenting at every turn with subjectivity, grammar, and the poetics of lapsus. Set in Montreal, The Obituary reflects the city’s gleeful heterogeneity — its negotiation of old, new, and postmodern, francophone, anglophone, allophone, and native cultures.

The plasticity of our pagelessness

Myung Mi Kim at a Belladonna* reading series event, 2006. Photo by erica kaufman.

Building is a Process / Light is an Element: Essays and Excursions for Myung Mi Kim
Andrew Rippeon and Michael Cross, editors

In my language of Tagalog, the word “dura” means spit. In this way, Myung Mi Kim’s Dura is potentially a circumstance of utterance as much as it risks the gesture of contempt as much as it attempts to manage one’s digestion as much as its perceptions clarify cultural practice as much as it risks the evanescence of spitting.