Reviews

Life-in-death: an agonizing in-between

A review of 'The Agony of I.B.' by Pierre Joris

Photo of Pierre Joris by Kelly Writers House staff.
Photo of Pierre Joris by Kelly Writers House staff.

We’re all going to die; very few of us will have a death as remarkable — or perhaps as unremarkable — as Ingeborg Bachmann’s. It is against this canvas, the final days of Bachmann’s life as she lay comatose in an Italian hospital, suffering from burns — the result of a fire caused by a wayward cigarette — and the pursuant withdrawal from sedatives, that Pierre Joris sets his play ​The Agony of I.B. (2016)​.

We’re all going to die; very few of us will have a death as remarkable — or perhaps as unremarkable — as Ingeborg Bachmann’s.

Cripping global queer, antiracist, and decolonial coalitions

A review of 'Crip Times' after 'Beauty is a Verb'

McRuer’s book, for instance, in many ways mirrors and departs from Beauty is a Verb: like the anthology, it opens with a historical excavation of policy change and arts-based responses, even overlapping with key figures, such as Petra Kuppers, who appear in Beauty is a Verb. However, it departs from an Americanist context of poetry, opening instead with a European-based history of neoliberal propaganda that he contrasts with emergent arts forms from crip activists.

The posthumous now

On Hillary Gravendyk's 'The Soluble Hour'

Photo of Gravendyk (right) courtesy of Benjamin Burrill.

How do we read the work of poets who die young? Recent books by Joan Murray and Max Ritvo have me thinking about the question with a special intensity. Ritvo died of Ewing’s sarcoma in 2016 at just twenty-five, with two posthumous volumes — The Final Voicemails: Poems and Letters from Max — published last year. Murray, who won the Yale Younger Poets award, died at nearly the same age, in 1942; Drafts, Fragments, and Poems: The Complete Poetry has just been painstakingly edited by Farnoosh Fathi and published by NYRB Poets.

How do we read the work of poets who die young? Recent books by Joan Murray and Max Ritvo have me thinking about the question with a special intensity.

Black/women are alive after tomorrow

A review of 'Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing'

Above: detail from cover art of ‘Letters to the Future.’

The most provocative mark in this anthology may be the virgule or forward slash that separates the last quarter of the title — Radical Writing — from the opening three quarters of the title — Letters to the Future: Black Women. I’ve analyzed elsewhere the function of the colon, a staple in academic article and book titles, so I won’t discuss that here.

Geoffrey G. O'Brien's subjunctive 'dividuals

'Experience in Groups'

Author photo (right) courtesy of Geoffrey G. O’Brien.

O’Brien’s “groups” are not Jonathan Edwards’s congregation or assembly. Nor are they the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie “crowds” of Gustave Le Bon, who argued there was no culture in social movements (only unconscious religious structures), though we do get “crowds” akin to the “clouds” of Charles Baudelaire, Constantin Guy, and Walter Benjamin. Nor are they Marxist “masses” or “unions,” or the twentieth-century “association” or “league” (Women’s, of Nations). 

Groups as period style