Up the wazoo

Emily Abendroth, NOTWITHSTANDING shoring, FLUMMOX (Little Red Leaves Textile Editions, 2012), 26 pp.—Tempted as I might be to read this as a screed, I want to emphasize, at least at first, its formal qualities. Specifically, Abendroth deploys a kind of send-up of the Socratic Method, statements and responses (vertically opposed on the same pages in the first part and horizontally opposed across the recto and verso pages in the second part). But this description belies the shifting rhetorical and syntactical registers on the same page, in the same stanzas, and often enough, within the same sentences. The thrust of the book is broadly ecological, both animal and human, marine and land. At the same time it is also a critique of science, of culture, of, that is, ideology: “The specimen thought, this is how important it can be to posterity/ to make an anomaly conform.” (9) Although she starts with the abuse and destruction of marine and animal life, Abendroth, in the second half of the book,  yokes together experimental formalism and social conformity (“This was the trickery of parataxis, the charade of proximity as pure equivalency”), economic crises and the “health” of racial stereotyping (“Although the stocks collapsed, Tynisha remained inflated. Elated even.”), so that the sentence serves as a microcosm of the formal strategies that organize the book as a whole. NOTWITHSTANDING shoring, FLUMMOX takes no prisoners, takes risks (social critique aside, the penultimate page nestles too close, perhaps, to Wordswortthian romanticism), and takes us all to task.