Reviews

Messing with your head

A review of 'Insolvency, Insolvency!' by Jeremy Hoevenaar

Photo of Jeremy Hoevenaar (left) courtesy of Alex Teschmacher.

Those who are familiars of the impetuous wonder of words will understand Jeremy’s poem. Those who read will not.

It’s only words that tell us what to do. If we listen. Insolvency, Insolvency! doesn’t tell us what to do / but it does tell us how to listen / and when. If we listen.

Elysian weather

A review of Joyelle McSweeney's 'The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults'

“I am a Futurist,” writes Joyelle McSweeney, describing the strange historical allegiances of her work: “But I am a Futurist of 1909 rather than a Futurist who believes or anticipates a Future as envisioned by, say, TED talk panelists or believers in the progressive motion of literature as a reinforcement of political/capitalist bona fides.” Above: ‘The City Rises,’ an early Futurist work by Umberto Boccioni, 1910.

“I am a Futurist,” writes Joyelle McSweeney, describing the strange historical allegiances of her work: “But I am a Futurist of 1909 rather than a Futurist who believes or anticipates a Future as envisioned by, say, TED talk panelists or believers in the progressive motion of literature as a reinforcement of political/capitalist bona fides.”[1] As declarations of avant-garde intent go, McSweeney’s is deliciously paradoxical: an anachronistic investment in a movement that militated against anachronism, that made war on the past and its pious preservation.

Against the modular mind

Jena Osman's 'Motion Studies'

Photo of Jena Osman (left) by Kelly Writers House staff.
Photo of Jena Osman (left) by Kelly Writers House staff.

Jena Osman’s sixth book, Motion Studies, is a hybrid work consisting of three essay-poems, reaching into the past and a hypothetical dystopian future to offer us urgent warnings about the present: the ubiquity of surveillance technologies, the reduction of the human being to a constellation of data points, and our often-unconscious participation in our own subjugation to these larger forces. True to its title, Motion Studies is a restless book, rarely content to exist in one mode for very long.

Honesty is the best policy

Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.
Photo of Steven Zultanski by Lanny Jordan Jackson.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

What are we to make of this short book? Is it poetry? Well, it doesn’t look like poetry. It is set up like prose, but these aren’t prose poems. They look like stories, or chapters. But are they? There is a voice, a narrator — is it the author, is it Steven Zultanski? — we aren’t quite sure. No name is offered. Let us call him the narrator. And are these sections, or chapters? This certainly doesn’t seem to be a novel, nor a collection of stories. And they are all in the first person.

'mend the world'

A review of Joseph Lease's 'The Body Ghost'

Photo of Joseph Lease (left) by Donna de la Perrière.

The dying father is speaking of his own mother — when he squeezes the hand of his living son, he is squeezing the hand of his own dead mother. The two living bodies are not alone. His son thinks to himself, “his mother / in the / room — / his mother’s / me —” (68). 

A father is at the end of his life. He is dying, and his son is in the room with him as he dies. In the elegy “Stay,” the father holds his son’s hand and says:

“when I 

squeeze 

your

hand I’m

squeezing her

hand”[1]