Reviews - July 2011

Time's loop

A review of 'Möbius Crowns'

 everything takes form, even infinity
— Gaston Bachelard

Near the end of the second chapbook of Möbius Crowns, a collection of aphorisms about the creation of the book, a bridge is constructed between poem and world:

What lyric itself thinks

A review of 'Canto'

              … Infinitely far away,
Where you or someone wrote the first word,

Wait for someone or something to wander by
And push down on it. Then the tower
Will topple, then the field where the band plays

Will lift upward, the music will stop, but the river
Rushing back to its source will be a new music,
No melody but wildness, no finalé but forever.
(Canto 3, lines 32–39)

The light contingent on darkness

A review of 'Black Life'

Barbara Guest says in Forces of Imagination that “it is the obscure essence that lies within a poem that is not necessary to put into language,” that this essence leaves a “little echo to haunt the poem.” In Dorothea Lasky’s Black Life, the essence is derived from, but not contained in, a directness of language, which while hinting at a sort of arrested emotion, and sounding naïve at times, thinks through concretes and situations. Her echoes reside in conceptual omissions.

Explorers, anthropologists, and historians

A review of 'from unincorporated territory [saina]'

I was a history major at the University of Georgia, no doubt the worst history major not only in Athens but the greater Southeast. It’s not that I dislike history, you understand, it’s that I cannot interpret history.

In from unincorporated territory [saina], Craig Santos Perez sent me back to the period at which I realized I couldn’t be a historian, to the point where the facts evolved beyond themselves and became ambiguous notations. This isn’t a negative reflection on the book; quite the contrary. It’s a reflection on what drew me into the book in the first place: an exploration of the culture, identity, and language of the Chamorro.

The poem as a type of activism

A review of 'War Rug'

Politically charged investigation raises the stakes of poetry for both the poet (as producer) and the poem (as art object). This type of poetry not only invokes the bardic practice of speaking the wisdom of the group, but also uses the poem as a type of activism. When critics question the role of poetry in the real world or what it can accomplish outside of its own existence, activist poetics that enters conversation with contemporary political happenings offers one of the better answers.