Reviews

Working in and out of labor

From the beginning mesmerizing repetition sequence of Jill Magi’s hybrid poetics-essay-fiction-nonfiction-poem-cycle, Labor is immersed in its title. Opposite of clichéd treatments of the subject, Labor is the real deal in its unconcealed embedding of the subject, so much so that the reader does not even notice such embedding . I thoroughly “got it” and was struck by the title living up to the name. Not because of doubt of the author — but because often a creative work purports to be about work — and it is — and it isn’t.

Without burning up the frame

During glasnost in August 1989, Lyn Hejinian, along with Michael Davidson, Ron Silliman, and Barrett Watten, attended the first international avant-garde writers’ conference, “Language — Consciousness — Society,” in the Soviet Union since the Russian Revolution. One of the main organizers of the event was Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, whose book, Endarkenment: Selected Poems, was published by Wesleyan University Press earlier this year.

A fierce intellectual pacifism

In writing on poetics, we often find a necessary equivocation. Turning over the pages of an old issue of Poetry, you might discover “The Meaning of Simplicity” by poet Yannis Ritsos. In its simplicity the final stanza of the short poem opens questions for the reader, revealing something unsayable and elusively poetic. The poem concludes:

Every single word is an exodus
for a meeting, cancelled many times,
it is a true word when it insists on the meeting.[1]

Writing between

Writing Surfaces: Selected Fiction of John Riddell presents a sampling of the Canadian poet’s work from 1969 through 1994. Though some of Riddell’s works can be found online, including at UbuWeb, most of his work is difficult to find in print. Writing Surfaces is a concise and accessible introduction to Riddell’s writings, one which hopefully will serve to raise Riddell’s profile among a new generation of readers. 

This is the bodies: On Jena Osman and Rob Fitterman

For a few months in 2014, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented a small exhibition of photographs by John Divola titled As Far As I Could Get. The exhibit encompassed one square room presenting prints from four different photographic series. In the title series, As Far As I Could Get, Divola has placed his camera on a tripod and set the shutter on a ten-second timer. As he starts the exposure’s countdown, he runs off into the distance marked by the camera’s gaze.