Forty years ago the New York-based film critic Armond White (who was a year ahead of me at Central High and Wayne State University in Detroit) hired me as a music critic for our college newspaper, The South End, and I started writing pop, rock and r & b record reviews a la Robert Christgau, Dave Marcus, Lester Bangs, Vince Aletti et al (side note: I preferred Creem to Rolling Stone). That model—short, pithy snapshots—was the inspiration for the last three months of chapbook and book reviews here at Jacket2, plus a way to make a dent in those to-be-read stacks of books and chapbooks. I read a lot more books than the ones I reviewed and I learned a lot about my own predilections and prejudices in the process. Below is a list of the chapbooks and books I did not, for a variety of reasons, review but nonetheless like well enough to recommend (with the usual caveat emptor).
Jennifer Scappettone, from Dame Quickly (Litmus Press, 2009), 101 pp., 15.00 —Superficially, Scappettone’s first book of poetry and art resembles Stephanie Young’s Picture Palace enough—texts abutted by images near the end of each book—that I once had them paired for a course that, unfortunately, never materialized. I wanted to explore and exploit the formal, and thus significant, differences between them.
Julian Brolaski, gowanus atropolis (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), 104 pp., $15.00—Usage begets and outpaces grammatical and syntactical rules. In that sense, usage is equivalent in value to adaptation in evolution. Temporal events, both usage and adaptation nonetheless function within the constraints of an epoch, given to any “us” as the architectonics of space and structure.
Eleni Sikelianos, Body Clock (Coffeehouse Press, 2008), 149 pp., $18.00—As a project that began out of the trauma of temporary agraphia and aphasia, Body Clock is the eight-part “record” of Sikelianos’ “return” to language, a journey marked here by the coming to “human” of her newborn.
Yedda Morrison, girl scout nation (Displaced Press, 2008), 100 pp.; Marie Buck, Life & Style (Patrick Lovelace Editions, 2009), 54 pp.—How do you make a girl? In their different ways, these two books address that question. Divided into three individually paginated sections, Yedda Morrison’s book functions as a kind of triptych.
Hunches, hedges, etc.