Stephanie Gray

The hymn of journals, poetic and public

Right: East Village, NYC, via Seaotterpup on Wikimedia Commons.

With today’s ubiquitous social media and all that sharing entails, the idea of poetry that delves into the personal and utilizes actual journals would command an especially astute and unique precision — one that Stacy Szymaszek’s Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals deftly delivers, reminding us of the raw power of the poetic personal / personal poetic, and how uncommon poetry with this kind of depth is nowadays.

With today’s ubiquitous social media and all that sharing entails, the idea of poetry that delves into the personal and utilizes actual journals would command an especially astute and unique precision — one that Stacy Szymaszek’s Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals deftly delivers, reminding us of the raw power of the poetic personal / personal poetic, and how uncommon poetry with this kind of depth is nowadays.

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.

Moving image, moving text, never past, look in mirror (repeat)

A review of Lisa Robertson's 'Cinema of the Present'

Lisa Robertson’s epic, nothing-quite-like-it Cinema of the Present reads and screens like its title. I daresay it is a textual film. On paper. But moving. You often hear about “poetic” or “text-films” but on film. But what about the opposite? Films on paper. After you’re done reading it you will feel like you’ve just watched a film. The images will come back to haunt and unhaunt you over and over. You’ll remember and then you’ll remember you just read a book, not a film.

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