Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Sore Throat & Other Poems by Aaron Kunin

Fence Books 2010

She is a 
word I always,
without knowing,
had in my mind.
(The Sore Throat 42-43)

To underscore the habit and obsession of this book is to miss the point.  Drawing from a pool of about 170 words from a translation of Pound's "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" and about 200 from Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pelleas et Melisande, Kunin creates a rift of speakers fraught with disassembling a world's wanderings.  Ideas become questionings and gestures out of questionings become rat gods.  Sore throats hide words that we cannot say or don't know how to articulate.

Kunin toys with inventions out of what seems like madness, "everything, system, system/ you say is, kind of, everything/ a kind of, like a, you say is/ a god, the day is/ kind of, a god/ like, a god" but the this madness seems like a searching and wandering out of madness—Kunin shows how habits make monsters of us all.

This book is frenetically paced, but invites the reader to think along with the writer—this union between god and you and you and you is a spectacular fusion of desire; "You are/ a choice my mind seems to desire naturally/ as a word would desire a thing."  The relentless searching to find answers questions what we want and how we perceive it.  A perserverating ecclection of what we know and how we can rearrange our mouths in our throats.  Newness like wholeness, a recollection of memory and how we enact our missive eyes.

Don't miss out on this book.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Northerners by Seth Abramson

New Issues 2011. Yes, someday I will figure out how to take decent webcam photos, but for now: THIS BOOK. How did it end up on this blog? Oh, you know, because it's awesome. It has so much heart, and the language is goddamm exquisite. But most of all, I love these poems so much because they're conflicted, yet bold, yet beautiful, yet interested in everything and in knowing of everything, endlessly groping for the invisible perimeter which divides the self from others. The "Northerner" self sometimes seeks to examine this solitude, other times to shrink from it, or to escape into a more courageous, mythological-self when the knowledge becomes too heavy: "He was sorry for how he'd sat / a massacre in the guise of a man / at a party for a boy he didn't know, / oldest there / by forty years ... where the majestic tail of his life should have been, / was just a boy / asking whether he'd agree to play horse / in a game of Knights. / He would." These poems are in love with the world despite all its traumas and cruelties--they feel, comment, and even advise, and in doing so are involved in the kind of world-building I find most commendable: "At the base of the lift / a man waits / to go up. He has courage and nothing / to have courage / for"
Not all books of poetry leave you with an overwhelming confidence that your life is better for having read it. This book makes me feel like I can do better and be better. It makes me feel like everything is important, though everything might hurt a bit, and that everything is a marvel to be treated as such.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Union! by Ish Klein

Canarium Books, 2009. You know why this book is awesome? Because I don't always like it. Let me explain. I have strong reactions to the poems in this book. Sometimes that reaction is, "Ish Klein, you're adorable and smart and funny and I feel like I would like to embark on an ocean voyage with you where we eat hardtack and speak in inverted syntax to our respective parrot familiars, Mizzy and TopBottom." Sometimes that reaction is, "Stop it, stop it, stop it." The poems are individual, full of personality, sometimes winning, sometimes too precious. Sort of like my reviews. Point is, these poems are doing something, which isn't always the case in a lot of poetry that plays it safe. I mean, the woman uses exclamation points. Everywhere. Exclamation points! Yes, like that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pinnochio's Gnosis by Peter Gizzi

The Song Cave 2011. Ok so it's a chapbook, but rules were made to be broken my loves, and this chapbook is fracking (I've been watching Battlestar Galactica, for those of you in the know) incredible. Also, I am in Montana and have gotten very tan this past week. ANYWAY. I've always thought it was rather wonderful how The Song Cave standardizes its chapbook covers, with the exception of switching up the 2 colors sometimes, to give these beautiful little collections a sort of freedom from anything that might take away from the text itself. I certainly can't verify this intention, given that I don't work for TSC, but I think it's very nice. This chapbook is a collection of little prose chunks, situated delicately on the page, which begins "The season folds into itself, cuts a notch in me." And from there it begins its work, this folding in upon itself, which accumulates with each recurrence of word, image, and thought. "This body only lasts for so many days. It's got a / shelf-life," "It wasn't mean to be this way, the wind leaning, / the trees sway, the stars there." These tiny, precisely coiled lines meditate on the body, the earth, and inevitably what it means to be terrifyingly aware that one will eventually be put into the other. But in the middle, there is music, even if it is difficult to understand: "It / wasn't exactly pretty when the song, the green and / blue, went into our heads."