Reviews

Beasts of no nation

On the poetics of invasion and Marwa Helal

Image adapted from cover of ‘Invasive Species.’

When they adopted the term “invasive species,” midcentury ecologists imposed a lexicon of human violence onto the migration of organisms, suffusing natural phenomena with political flavor. Invasion is a versatile metaphor for all kinds of unwanted arrivals and threats to national borders; the term supercharges crusades against overly dominant flora and fauna with xenophobic emotion.

               who made this taxonomy?
unmake it
Marwa Helal, Invasive Species[1]

A review of 'Black Case Volume I and II'

Image courtesy of Blank Forms Editions and After : Still.

Across the decades, the recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, as well as most announcements of their concerts, bore the slogan “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.” Some years ago, in the course of a panel on the Ensemble and their history at the University of Chicago that featured Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, and George Lewis, the subject of that slogan and its origins was broached. Asked why that slogan, Jarman quipped, “nobody ever said it was great.” 

we sing looking to ALL the past future masters
to give us clear vision
healing music, GREAT BLACK MUSIC
where we start from finish start finish[1]

Paper cuts, or the costs of legibility

A review of Kimberly Alidio's 'why letter ellipses'

Photo of Kimberly Alidio by Stacy Szymaszek.

When we talk about literacy there cannot be / one without concessions. — Simone White

'Already free'

A review of 'F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry'

Cover of 'F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry'
Image adapted from front and back covers of ‘F Letter.’

Russia’s new feminist poetry has so fully arrived in the US as to be featured in Time magazine, but that interest from a mainstream publication does not mean that this remarkable work is anodyne or safe. This work can be fierce, hilarious, tender, and sexy. It stretches the boundaries of the poetic, not least when the poets ironically ask, as Stanislava Mogileva puts it in her “Song,” whether the poetry is sufficiently feminist, sufficiently activist, or too personal, too simple, too frivolous, too intense.

'Reader, we were meant to touch'

On Erica Hunt's 'Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems'

Photo of Erica Hunt by <a href=https://flic.kr/p/2hKTJQ4>Kelly Writers House</a>
Photo of Erica Hunt by Kelly Writers House staff, 2019.

Erica Hunt’s Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems (Nightboat, 2020) gathers six revised full-length collections and chapbooks. Across their nearly thirty years of publication, edited in and with the present, they propose ways of reconceptualizing time that work against a ground of racial capitalist marginalization to generate radiant clarity about the conditions of our living. 

Erica Hunt’s Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems (Nightboat, 2020) gathers six revised full-length collections and chapbooks. Across their nearly thirty years of publication, edited in and with the present, they propose ways of reconceptualizing time that work against a ground of racial capitalist marginalization to generate radiant clarity about the conditions of our living. They are specific, often, about how time feels — how various pasts feel in the present, and how language makes evident the variability of what time is and how it behaves.