Reviews - July 2012

Leaving language

A review of Maureen Thorson's 'Applies to Oranges'

The experience of loss most often presents itself in the form of sensitivities: not just to the vacant space formerly taken up by the missing object — a beloved, an earlier way of life, a prized possession — but also to the environment we see on a daily basis. Almost immediately, the sense of deprivation starts to seek a new wholeness.

The light of happenstance

A review of Colleen Lookingbill's 'a forgetting of'

In the first of five poems that share the book’s title, Colleen Lookingbill’s “a forgetting of” introduces the book’s alertness to the body as place and planet. Both domestic and cosmic, intimate as impulse and DNA but open as a portico, identity forms according to the unpredictable terms of mortality:

radiant once
our spiral lineaments
impulse here a portico
she who opens
safekeeping or because traces unfold (7)

The landscape at present

A review of Joseph Massey's 'At the Point'

Joseph Massey’s second ‘full-length’ collection of poems, At the Point, expands on the work in his previous Areas of Fog. While that collection’s detail of and attention to place finds a natural extension in At the Point, this collection finds not just an increasing awareness of the immediate presence of the Californian coastal landscape where he lives, but an active restraint in the face of the landscape. In the earliest lines of “Found”:

There’s little
to say. The landscape

'The problem with being numerous is a problem of memory'

A review of Joshua Ware's 'Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley'

In a certain sense, to write an homage to something or someone is to admit a failure: one has neither the initiative, creativity nor means to attempt to create something new, something less overtly indebted to one’s specific interests. Paying homage displays a writer’s embrace of influence — especially artistic influence — and posits that it is so pervasive in our contemporary culture, so slyly insidious, that to try and write anything other than an homage (of some sort at least) is to be willfully, woefully ignorant.

The poetics of patience and mutiny

A review of Carmen Giménez Smith's 'The City She Was'

Carmen Giménez Smith (left) and Julia Cohen (right).

We have the terror of collectivity. And then we have the joy of collectivity. Carmen Giménez Smith reminds me that frenemies lurk around the Hard Rock Cafés of any city. But she also reminds me that we don’t have to go to the mall alone to pierce our ears and I’m relieved.