Reviews

Menacing archives

A review of Jennifer Scappettone's 'The Republic of Exit 43'

Trucks dump garbage at Fresh Kills Landfill, May 1973. Photo by Chester Higgins with the EPA, via Wikimedia Commons.

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations. 

What kind of archive is the landfill? How do disposable technologies haunt — or annul — the imaginaries of urban ecologies? Landfills and wastelands often preserve more than personal and communal memories: narratives of city development, domestic and global economies, cultural infrastructures, and processes that underpin technological innovations.

Ardour, or …

Nicole Brossard’s burning word

'If ardour is that thing — whether in the romance or the saint’s life — that heats us up to jump from one phase of being to another, Brossard’s ardour intensifies but also idles.' Lamb of God stained glass image from St. Ignatius church in Massachusetts; photo by John Workman via the English Language Wikipedia.

Ardour: the flame of desire; a spiritual, sexual, or physical burning; a passion that the OED tells us now connotes only “generous or noble impulses” though once it could speak of evil. It’s a word I rarely use or hear spoken in conversation. When I think of reading it, I recall English novels. In these stories a girlish face turns upward to receive a kiss; it is the kiss that is imposed with ardour, the girl’s lover who is ardent. When I read for “ardour” online, the books at the top of the list my search returns are religious, moral, martial.

Caspar's Silence

A review of 'Registration Caspar'

Image at right courtesy of J. Gordon Faylor.

In her blurb for Registration Caspar, poet Divya Victor described the text — part genre fiction, part avant-garde experiment — as one in which “all of … Beckett’s unfulfilled plans and undeployed scenarios have come back to haunt.” She isn’t wrong: taking the form of a log written before the imminent “erasure” of Caspar (a non-gendered “entity” rushing to save money for the two partners they will leave behind), the text is certifiably Beckettian, in the sense that the reader’s patience is challenged by what Bataille would call an “incontinent flux” of language.

Unraveling tongues

A review of 'She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks'

I first encountered M. NourbeSe Philip’s poetical interruptions three years ago, in a course taught by Tisa Bryant called Unnamable Texts. We spent time with “Discourse on the Logic of Language,” which is a sequence from her 1988 collection She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks. My memory of this poem is bodily. 

If she does not ravel and unravel his universe, she will then remain silent, looking at him looking at her. — Trinh T. Minh-ha[1]

(Re)animating the city

A review of 'Deep City' by Megan Kaminski

Photo courtesy of Megan Kaminski.

In “A Reason for Poetics,” collected in Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing, Barbara Guest addresses the tension between physical and “mysterious” dimensions of poetry. Beginning a section titled “Poetic Codes,” Guest writes: