Thursday, January 12, 2012

Call the Catastrophists by Krystal Languell

BlazeVOX [books], 2011. Sure, we've all heard the ponderous question, "If you were stranded on an island with only five small press poetry books, which would they be, and why?" I would like to propose that you immediately strike #1 on your list, and replace it with Call the Catastrophists by Krystal Languell.

Simply put, this book is a new book every time you read it. Its three carefully rendered sections--titled CATASTROPHES, SALVAGE, and CONTINUUM--are deceptive in their uniformity, because these sections don't so much contain the poems within, but give them walls to tap upon, ledges to peer over. Languell's lineated poems whistle at their prose poem neighbors, and she seems equally adept with either form, as well as in poems where she makes use of the field, such as "Flesh: A Clarification."

What is remarkable about this book is how Languell is able to take everyday occurrences and objects and make them both frightful and enlightening, from a fortuitously aligned sunset to a bundle of twigs wrapped in a red bow. These are contemplative poems that manage to never get lost in their own thoughts, though we may find ourselves returning to them while gazing at a streetscape or washing dishes. The final poem in the book, "Suggestions for Longevity," tells us, "You'll want to think the end isn't your fault. Get organized. Go for a hike. Start a non-profit. // I don't do that kind of thing, but I'm not the one who wants to live forever."

This book might just make you want to live forever, or at least to savor its pages on a deserted island, not bothering to scan the horizon for any signs of rescue.

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