Reviews

Existence plus alphabets

'Meaning to Go to the Origin in Some Way' and 'Participant'

How do poets make sense of landscape? Sense as in meaning, but also as in sensation, the lived experience of engaging with a particular tract of land at a particular time? The two books here, based on living around and walking through 46.7325ºN, 117.1717º: The Confluence, South Fork Palouse River and Paradise Creek, Pullman, WA, USA, are exemplary, in freshness and depth of engagement. 

Think in stitches. Think in settlements. Think in willows. — Gertrude Stein[1]

How do poets make sense of landscape? Sense as in meaning, but also as in sensation, the lived experience of engaging with a particular tract of land at a particular time (day, season/weather, human dateline)? The two books here, based on living around and walking through 46.7325ºN, 117.1717º: The Confluence, South Fork Palouse River and Paradise Creek, Pullman, WA, USA, are exemplary, in freshness, thoughtfulness, and depth of engagement. 

Behind the scenes of the city and the writer

Messy and fraught with flashes of beauty

Photo of Cometbus (left) by Chrissy Piper.

In Aaron Cometbus’s first poetry collection, Last Supper, flashes of the city and one of its writers carouse side-by-side in all their messiness and fragmented beauty like blurry snapshots that tell the truth in the fuzziness. Which is fitting, given the film stills by experimental film documentarian Jem Cohen that grace the book’s covers. Improbable seeming scenes present themselves in freeform stanzas, sometimes with gallows rhyme that often showcases pained or hard-won honesty. Cometbus, the author of the eponymous zine (since 1981), chronicles both a changing and fading city, and is also a writer ruminating on aging.

Mutual-aid amid 'ASoUND'

A review of Cheena Marie Lo's 'A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters'

Boat from the cover of ‘A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters’ laid over a visualization one of the book’s poems of tabulated numbers.

“[T]owards each other,” “towards our neighbors,” “towards the amalgamation of larger divisions of the species for purposes of mutual protection,”[1] to quote from a poem in Cheena Marie Lo’s new book of poems, their first. Lo, like me, is an Oakland-based poet, writing in (yet another) period of our neighbors’ violent deterritorialization and reterritorializing mutual-aid; this period is the subject of their book.

As a rule, the most general abstractions arise only in the midst of the richest possible concrete development, where one thing appears as common to many, to all. Then it ceases to be thinkable in a particular form alone. — Karl Marx, Grundrisse

‘the unspeakable, the unutterable’

Over the past two decades, poet and essayist Patrick Pritchett has been quietly building an impressive and altogether unique body of work, culminating in a recent (2014) new and selected poems, Song X, which is derived from previous collections Gnostic Frequencies (Spuyten Duyvil, 2011), Antiphonal (Pressed Wafer, 2008), Burn: Doxology for Joan of Arc (Chax Press, 2005), and Reside (Dead Metaphor Press, 1999).

Gelmaning on

A review of 'Oxen Rage (Cólera buey)'

Photo of Juan Gelman (right) courtesy of Gianluca Battista, 2011.

Remarkably few volumes of poetry by Juan Gelman have been translated into English. This is perhaps because of the unique challenges inherent in translating his work, known for its neologisms, playful and musical language, and political exploitation of ambiguity — Gelman once wrote to his translator, Lisa Rose Bradford, “To be sure is a sickness of our times.

Remarkably few volumes of poetry by Juan Gelman have been translated into English.