Reviews - July 2013

On our own recognizance

Miranda Mellis's survivable devastation

Mellis’s newest work in print, The Spokes, takes us on a fantastical journey into the unpredictable afterworld in search of a deceased parent, Silver, whose absence has left a pervasive sense of self-questing perplexity and a fierce thirst for history in her surviving daughter, Lucia. While Lucia’s journey of attempted recuperation provides the primary “plot” device of the story, like in all seriously delicious writing, there is on the one hand what “happens” and, on the other hand, all those indefinable, indismissable sensations that these “happenings” further evoke or induce. I refer here to those sallying waves of prescient feeling whose linguistic footprints and circumference are far more extensive, amorphous, and difficult to map.

Divine and now

A review of Tony Leuzzi's 'Radiant Losses'

In his new collection Radiant Losses, Tony Leuzzi writes poems that are not only universal in topic and emotive power, but also very personal. Poems such as “Now” explore the physical and emotional connections between men: “The / less / he was / and the less / I was the more we / disappeared behind bodies not / our own …”  In the last stanza of this poem, Leuzzi’s speaker reaches a metaphysical realization: “But / now / with you / I can’t think / of anyone else / hell! I can’t think at all! Your skin / against mine / my flesh, your flesh, the immediate this” (53).

A sound in the mind

A review of Peter Gizzi's 'Threshold Songs'

Besides referring to an entrance, the word “threshold” signifies the lower limit of an observable phenomenon; take grief, for example. I know when grief arrives, but when is it gone? More likely, grief just dissipates and never goes away entirely and at some point maybe we cease trying to measure it. On the other hand, a threshold is a crossing. When I was twelve, my parents added a room onto our small house, and the builder suggested ash for the thresholds. Ash, he said, had been thought to keep out evil spirits.

The task of onwardness

A review of Kristen Case's 'American Pragmatism and Poetic Practice'

This review of Kristen Case’s 2011 work of literary scholarship, American Pragmatism and Poetic Practice: Crosscurrents from Emerson to Susan Howe, will not be a review at all. That is, it will abjure, as it pleases, summary, synopsis, critical narrative, argumentation, and contextualization in an effort to respond to the book’s provocative closing question: “What sort of writing becomes possible if we relinquish the myth of scholarly apartness?” (141).