Reviews - November 2011

Perfecting dissatisfaction

A review of 'The Smaller Half'

So-subtle but also entire avoidance of the ironic or deeply transcendent moment end-stops many of the poems in Marc Rahe’s spare and affecting debut, The Smaller Half.  More than just a show of resignation, refusal, or wariness of the comedic or the sublime, Rahe’s poems are reflective of the times in which we live. Why wish so hard for alternatives that don’t exist?

'A speck of behavior, a fleck of culture'

A review of 'Field Work: Notes, Songs, Poems, 1997–2010'

When Henry James wrote about “the state of the streets” in American cities at the turn of the twentieth century, he expressed over and over the difficulty of ever doing justice to the task. Faced with “a welter of objects and sounds” James in The American Scene claimed his powers of perception to be in such disarray that the semiotics of American manners eluded his grasp almost completely.[1]

A narrative recollection of the week of the Chicago Durutti Skool

And beyond

John Keene and Jen Karmin read for "Poetry for Labor" at Haymarket Square
John Keene and Jen Karmin read for "Poetry for Labor" at Haymarket Square. Photos by Alan Bernheimer.

In May 2011, Jennifer Karmin and I, as curators of the Red Rover Series {readings that play with reading}[1] in Chicago, responded to a call for action by Juliana Spahr and Joshua Clover.[2] Their idea was to encourage poets all over the US to implement their poetics in a political and active sense as part of a nationwide initiative called the Durutti Skool.[3] Red Rover joined forces with other groups already mobilized and mobilizing across the city for a week of activities starting with May Day. First, we helped publicize and joined a gathering poet John Keene[4] had called for “at the Haymarket Martyr’s Statue in Haymarket Square (the actual memorial site, which sits in the park several miles west of that site, is where all the major unions held their commemoration).

The point of contact they create

A review of 'Three Novels'

Elizabeth’s Robinson new book Three Novels engages with an archaic form, in this case the Victorian novel. In particular, Eve’s Ransom by George Gissing, and Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and Woman in White, the latter two read to her as a child by her father, the former a book they shared as adult readers.

The way we tend to compose, or hear, poetry these days

A review of 'The Odicy'

The title of Cyrus Console’s book THE ODICY is a pun that references Homer’s epic and Leibniz’s 1710 book Théodicée, which coined the term “theodicy,” a defense or vindication of God in respect to the existence of evil. As such, it immediately calls into play related, but disparate texts (and indeed, modes of discourse), as well as different cultural-historical moments. And it hints at what is perhaps a fatal overdetermination of elements at work in this book of poems. The poems are written in pentameter.