Reviews - May 2012

Scholars to come

A review of Matt Miller's 'Collage of Myself'

The image on the cover of Matt Miller’s new book, Collage of Myself: Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass, will look especially familiar to anyone who has googled the good gray poet in the past few years. While the William J. Linton engraving of Walt Whitman, itself based on a photograph by George C. Potter, first appeared within the poet's published work in 1875, the last place many of you may have seen this “rough-cut mask” was on the homepage of the Walt Whitman Archive, an electronic teaching and research tool that makes Whitman’s work — from his earliest extant manuscripts up through the so-called “deathbed” edition of Leaves of Grass — available free online.

The decidedly American, Whitmanic grain

A review of Matthew Henriksen's 'Ordinary Sun'

To address Matt Henriksen’s poetry, we start with a passage from Whitman’s preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass:

… from the eyesight proceeds another eyesight and from the hearing proceeds another hearing and from the voice proceeds another voice eternally curious of the harmony of things with man.

I cannot think of a better definition of poetry’s visionary impulse. The poet employs his or her senses in the service of a perception that is not of the order of this world. It is a mode of perception that points to another world right here in our everyday homelessness. The key to the visionary impulse is in our mutual sympathy: if the poet is curious about “the harmony of things with man,” then we too can be curious. The aim of the visionary impulse is to explore the endless ravishments and ravagings — harmony’s dualities — of the unacknowledged worlds within our world.

These books need to be collaborated with

A review of Debrah Morkun's 'The Ida Pingala' and Aimee Herman's 'to go without blinking'

Debrah Morkun’s new book enacts commingling (“here is my torn dress made of semen”); is a non-monetary fiduciary — an ethical holding between the Ida Nadi (lunar Nadi, site of comfort, nurturing, said to control mental processes and to be the site of the “feminine” aspects of personality, represented by the color white (“the forest was open”)) and the Pingala Nadi (solar Nadi, stimulating, said to control vital somatic processes and oversee masculine aspects of personality, represented by the color red (“a virile member of the eternally repeated word”)).

Architecture rings true

A review of Carol Watts's 'Occasionals'

When the occasion arises, or for a particular occasion, or perhaps once in a while, or in the case of Carol Watts’s Occasionals, poems written from September 2006 until September 2007, or not poems but a poem in rigorously regular “cuts,” sixty-eight altogether, divided into four equal segments: “autumncuts,” “wintercuts,” “springcuts,” and “summercuts.”