Reviews

The light of this

An itinerant essay around a reading of 'The Gorgeous Nothings'

“The world will not rest satisfied,” wrote a reviewer of Emily Dickinson’s poems in 1892, “till every scrap of [Emily Dickinson’s] writings, letters as well as literature, has been published.”[1] Here is how The Gorgeous Nothings, a provocation, satisfies.

Tunneling through the self

On Hoa Nguyen's 'As Long as Trees Last'

Living with As Long as Trees Last, Hoa Nguyen’s latest collection of poetry, is akin to living with Charles Olson — his endless exuberance, wide-ranging curiosity, and aesthetic agility, as well as his famous invocation of the body as a tunnel through which one must go to know more truly the self and the world around it. “Down through the workings of [the poet’s] own throat to that place where breath comes from,” he writes in Projective Verse, is the path to becoming “participant in the larger force.”

The thing that doesn't fail

On Stephanie Young’s 'Ursula or University'

Stephanie Young’s Ursula or University begins, “I guess it’s too late ...” and (nearly) ends, “It can be never for a very, very long time. And then it can be now.” In between, Young hovers and waits, worries and writes, enmeshed in a Bay Area poetry community that, to her, crackles with potential seismic energy she nevertheless fears may forever fail to unleash the earthquake that would justify its pressures and change the topography of power and privilege whose violence mars the utopia she can almost grasp.

Reconsidering the environment

A review of 'Kindergarde'

Children often have the ability to cut to the chase and say something without dissembling.  Within such purity, gems often leave their small mouths, hence the saying, “From the mouth of babes … ” All children possess this capacity, but I suspect that for orphans — or perhaps any child with a difficult (so to speak) background — this ability to swiftly and directly see and analyze is honed.

On QED II, part one: The presence of absence

For the past two years, Les Figues Press has hosted the series Q.E.D., a three-part event named for Gertrude Stein’s Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Stein’s coming-out text, written in 1903, was suppressed at her request until its posthumous publication in 1950. Hence the appropriate title for the first Q.E.D. II 2013: The Presence of Absence.