Reviews - June 2011

Who is writing is the translator

A review of 'Ventrakl'

To quote Christian Hawkey’s quotation of Jean Laplanche:

The movement of auto-translation, the drive to translate (Trieb zur Übersetzung — to use Novalis's term) issues, springs up, not from the translator but from this untranslated or this imperfectly translated [text], which endlessly demands translation. (41)

Taking the concept of meaning-making by storm

A review of 'Cyclones in High Northern Latitudes'

 Prefatory Note:

I struggled with this review for a very, very long time. Both Jeffrey Side and Jake Berry's aesthetics are deeply invested in maximizing each reader's unique contribution to the process of meaning-making, and both would vehemently resist any effort that might seem to reduce a poem to a "stable and finite" reading. Side in particular has powerfully encouraged readers to resist merely being "passive witnesses," and to consciously search out "less obvious or appropriate" meanings.[1]

On three recent books of poetry

Reviews of Tichy, Tadić and Barskova

What does it mean to witness? What becomes of the object of an unsustained inquiry? Gallowglass, Susan Tichy’s fourth book of poems, tries for answers. It’s an afterwards-document of calamity and of a loss of understanding, charged with elegiac grief for one lost and with an enervated sadness at our country’s role in terrible violence in the Middle East.

A sensuous field of attention

A review of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's 'Concordance'

In a 2003 interview printed in Jacket, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge noted, “For me, collaboration has been a wonderful way to open someone else’s sensibility, to use that openness like oxygen or ocean.” Concordance is such a collaboration and such an openness.

The buried encounter

Josie Sigler's living

In her debut book of poems, Josie Sigler links life with violence, love with loss, and mourning with the natural progression of time. Published by Fence Books as the 2010 winner of the Motherwell Prize, Living Must Bury is a mixture of repeated phrases, historical flashes, and tragic endings linked by the universal experience of living.