on Open Throat by Henry Hoke...
The beauty and tragedy of all of nature is in this character. Open Throat is a fierce writing act. Henry Hoke makes it true.
The beauty and tragedy of all of nature is in this character. Open Throat is a fierce writing act. Henry Hoke makes it true.
Burnett’s Seed Celestial is a quietly upending work. A book that’s often about maternity also includes the creation of the mother by the child. She’s comfortable with profundity, even conversational with it. ‘I remembered / I had all eternity, / an empty glass to fill.’ So the work is plain and beautiful and then surprising. She upends sentence structure to express family: ‘Abuelo, there are moments when you’re in my head, / in evenings sometimes, my whole head, yours.’ Her rhymes work like spice in cooking, understated here but always bringing it out, it being the varied rough texture of life. By the time she drops the term ‘endling’ (‘when a species is the last of its kind’) I think that she might be an endling herself in that she’s taking this time with existence, inhabiting it as she does in her poems, as this is all there is. For Burnett, poems are like a staff upon which lives are stretched and dangled — lovingly & smart. It simply happens here. But to get that we must listen.
A book with a hole in it is reading as good as thinking. Lines stop 'cause they’re too full, don’t want to say any more, and even in silence the interior is just bursting, the book is so rich. It leads out, proudly, though it pauses first.
That was cool. And I think you’ll agree. Cause R/B Mertz is queer as hell and can really really write prose.
There’s no doubt to this book. You’d think that was a flaw but it’s been burned away. My Dead Book is not short though it is brief. It’s loving, bittersweet, and actually courageous because it tells a story that is slightly unbearable because it’s all secret, awful hard bad secrets and funny as hell. Nate’s balancing act works because the heart of it (this novel) is true even though it’s often heartless. It’s simple. He knows what things are worth. When you need the sea or a bird they’re there like they never were before.
Helen Chau Bradley’s first collection is supremely ordinary but that’s its magic, their stories are deeply experiential and in their familiar excess I felt transported into an array of different bodies and moments that make up this time and each ending releasing me into the next set of conditions that puzzle out the almost sci fi specificity of the unexpected world ‘this’ contemporary is. I felt compelled to keep reading being held by an impulse to not be alone today or tonight. Personal Attention Roleplay is a canny and companionable book, actually sweet.
Is Patricia Highsmith a queer icon, a trans icon, or just a brilliant and lucky bitch, a bitch’s bitch? She’s master diarist as much as novelist. Her Diaries and Notebooks are a portrait of a time, a long passage from the forties to the nineties, and you’ve never traveled on this perspective before. Get on, get off, spend months and days. You can spend years.
Wow. Get Punks. Loads of ritual and performative lyric here, essential stuff. Histories, his brain ranges through the past impossibly, like an elegant thrift. I bow my head to Boston as it passes along the edges here of its demi-monde, then wrenching prose poems that are pretty much explorations of radiant metonymies of someone being black and queer like only John Keene is. This is one rich and thorough (I say pithy) fucking book.
The Wrong End of the Telescope is the best kind of prose. Lines break out like poetry and the story muscles on, telling. The setting is real history which I’m hungry for and Rabih Alameddine queers it handsomely with all kinds of love and a feeling that existence is pure experience, not language at all and the shape of this book, right up to the end, is a becoming.
Andrea I like your experience. Thanks thanks thanks for this frank obtuse poetix, this wriggling book. Its wisdom is when I think I’ve summed it up it’s something else--action and spatial, flat versatile wily & interior maybe even yeah poetic in that way only prose can be but CAPS-STRONG, manifesting today. Oh and here’s my favorite line: “resist the present approach impurity.” Yessss!
I am awed by this beautiful and compelling book Afropessimism and its ability to combine a growing up (Black) memoir with Frank Wilderson’s own unerring and poetic interpretation of critical race theory to inexorably install in all the ways that only great story telling can the pithy truth that without Anti Blackness there would be no America. Can you handle that. Can I?
Amy tells us that a tube of cadmium red has a different weight than say cobalt violet and that all painters know this and art historians mostly don’t. Sillman is shocked to think about someone who beholds paint but has never held it and she stands in the doorway of that thought, bleeding back and forth and she writes in it & it’s a rare rare place she’s standing in. Pick up her Faux Pas. You’ll be dazzled as I am by this knowledge, her rarity.
This book is a small revolution that becomes a party that you won’t be leaving soon. I believe we’re living in a time of fresh erasures, systemic violences working that global pandemic to take some other bodies out. Looking so freshly at the history of queerness, sexual deviance and the long long coordinated erasures of colonialism, bigotry and transphobia the essential non-binary nature of art opens up right here like the wildly singing flower it is and So Mayer’s compelling version makes sense, makes me listen.
Diary of a Detour is such a great book, excessive like Lesley Stern’s own intense appetite for life that includes her wide knowledge about the intricacies of disease. It’s the most pleasurable cancer book imaginable. I was riveted, the specificity of the writing is a drug. Stern has written a wonderful, stirring, magnificent book. Oh World, you are the love object of this hardworking, self-deprecating extravagant genius.
This book is just real enough to be surprising that it even is a book and not the world itself and just odd enough that you keep turning pages, to continue the walk, to feel the loss and discover a new extremely smart friend who as collateral damage for having read Hear Me Ohio gives me as reader and mammal an inkling that there is a wild commons in this world which might be the rangey careful exacting writing sensibility which is Jen Hirt.
Seductive and wise, My Meteorite is the conversation you want.
These are a fascinating read. Richly political, finally honed like a monster being restrained but gentle enough to tell the children a story.
I scream Mommy! Because motherhood is a monstrous act, a collection of primal moments wanting to disassociate and become a person and Emerson has written a story about Mommy and me but mainly they’re extending to us a forceful act of writing in defense of the self. They take pictures, run away with eyes full of tears, then pirouette to stand their ground to tell us this colossally wonderful and woefully broken story.
I love Native Country of the Heart’s forthright blending of a bio of Moraga’s intriguing powerhouse mom, Elivira, with Moraga’s own queer evolution. And that the intimate facts of Cherríe Moraga’s family history get embedded alongside such valuable public secrets as the mass deportation of Mexican workers during the depression so that dust bowl farmers could have their jobs. This book is a coup.
This is like high junk reading, both getting the information, snickering at the misinformation, stalking the stalkers and really brooding on the possibility that the dead female body at the top of the film is feeding a female appetite for death and malfeasance and not yawn more jerk off fodder for men. Our corpses, ourselves!
Yin Xiaoyuan holds back nothing. Their poems are bulky, excessive, cinematic and suddenly despondent and pulling back and the poem ends. I applaud the richness of the work, its bravery, its quirkiness. I turn the pages of Cloud Seeding Agent eagerly for another vista and another reshuffling of what a poem is. I feel like a fledgling lover, abandoned, happy and surprised.
After reading I threw this down and thought Fanny’s the greatest writer there is. The Needle’s Eye, this little miracle, is a memoir of association. In it the young aren’t so much young as molten; then Howe’s own very young soul begins to unfurl itself into the collective unfinished time of youth when we are all traveler: part saint, part lover, part animal and ‘terrorist.’ As a writer she offers nothing less than a handful of the seeds of everything we will ever become.
Fanny Howe is a poet, a novelist, a memoirist, and one of America’s deepest, most whimsical and emotionally grounded writers.
I love King Kong Theory. It’s a fuck-you push-back against a blood-sucking patriarchal culture that keeps murdering and raping women till they get the idea (the survivors, ha) that they should be stupidly grateful to serve men, just lucky to even be allowed to play. This is liberatory galloping prose, inhale it now and if you’ve read it before read it again in this new jangling translation, ornery and alive like we need to be. This short fiery book is essential.
I anticipated this volume would be young and “diverse” and it is and it’s older than that. The third volume of what is trying to make sense of female American poetry is more profoundly than ever working the gaps and these mistranslations, discovered beaches, broken countries and ‘elves’ are places to begin, not to go back and these poets have all been making things for a while and it’s a deep pleasure to watch them head ahead with weirdness and urgency and style. This one is the best yet and is something to read and what I want.
This is such anticipatory, massively omniscient edging work. It’s a tone you’d expect a poet to hit here or there but Doug hits it always and I don’t know that he “knows,” or his poem knows but there’s a temptation as a reader to want to stay in it always. He’s not saying it’ll be okay. But even, not meekly, that there are patterns.
Precious is every kind of artist but she could only be a poet. Her ‘also’ barges into every world, her work is pure manifesto, stopping to laugh, it’s bawdy and pretty, handsome, cataclysmic and righteous. It’s food. It’s impatient and entirely on her own time and I think she touches ours, everyone else’s, in a burn the earth Jimi Hendrix way. No, she’s post him. The earth is burnt. She starts there.
There’s nothing to do but sit down and read this book. Inside it I feel deep in being, immersed in a frankness and a swerving bright and revelatory funkiness I’ve not encountered before ever concerning the collective daily life of an undocumented family in America. It’s a radical human story and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is simply a great writer.
A juicy, wildly necessary book that formidably and playfully decenters the “recent” history of painting by dropping the stylish Helen Frankenthaler right on center stage as painting’s true abstract heroine of nextness. This flagrant and righteous vision gets backed up by a word chorus that includes Marilyn Minter, Mike Kelley, Carrie Moyer, Polly Apfelbaum, Caroll Dunham, Cecily Brown, K8 Hardy, Amy Sillman, Kara Walker the tome itself ending with the exquisite language: Hello, Bitches.
David showed us the essay in all its wriggling forms: heartbreak, young adventure, scholarship, perversity, memoir. He yanks obscure writers out of the sands of time and shows us how they glitter, as ghosts go he’s the best, one still hears his hesitant weigthy inimitably charming exhausting hungry voice, the logos itself laughing at human dreams of knowledge. This is a friend.
I love this book. It’s simply poetry that doesn’t quit moving. It tells a story. It’s water, it shimmers.
Alissa Quart’s poems are nimble and seething, capturing our baroquely scurrilous world. She writes across the holes of what’s been lost, hopeless and strangely optimistic at once.
Anger, clarity, an unrelenting, unforgiving ear; funny, hot, intelligent, wise, challenging, outrageous and cool. Jillian Weise is simply among the small league of my favorite poets on earth. With Cyborg Detective she’s even more so. She’s ONLY AWAKE and freely and incisively shares all that comes with that awesome and sinuous burden.
A frank and wonderful collection that calls America a work in progress, that describes the poet himself as a grade-school bully who loved the other boy he hit, and one could readily cry with him now; everything is alive here in his book: the Rio Grande as sentient and knowing, all this with a jazz musician’s timing. Richard Blanco writes about the elusive poundingness of love.
This is such a sexy, funny, sad book.... Paul Lisicky’s energized and deeply frank prose makes living (as he shows it) feel like a bit of a miracle.
This book is crazy and wonderful like a basket full of snakes.
The hours I’ve spent with this knowing and moving book about place and placelessness are among the most valuable of my reading life. Wow, thank you, Amy.
Just like his films, Jonas Mekas’s poems hold his dignity, their pace unfolding as the poet looks down at mountains from a plane. Later he’s a bit of an actor sitting on the shore, anticipating darkness, uses ’soul’ as singular, remembers being little and those old friends and then it is day, bright yellow and he is beginning again. The colors here are true, the experience is so real. Mekas’s poems are a plain joy to read, timely and refreshing like a perfect glass of water.
Hannah Ensor writes long enough poems that you have to keep reading and ones so good I want to keep reading. They’re a little sci-fi. Or maybe just true. She keeps changing the subject then running it backwards so you know where you were in the middle of all these little bits and pieces of nature that flutter like a tree that actually wants to talk to you.
Pet Sounds is a long love poem written in and out of the collective of us. It truly has a surfing kind of energy, doesn’t get bunched up for long, even pleasantly gets a little specific and gross, but bobs again. Invariably she deals sharp and close because Stephanie’s seriously interested in a total ride through relationship and humanity, song, family and what else.
Peter Rock has written a weird and haunting story about a younger man and an older woman who like to swim in the dark. Happily The Night Swimmers is no male coming of age story. Instead their secret nightly practice in a dark and foreboding lake shimmers as a queer refusal for either of them to grow up right.
Alexander Chee asks one of the great coming of age questions here: Isn’t beauty strong? His welter of answers yields a really moving (and sometimes devastating) writing memoir of being young, of being someone and not entirely knowing it yet--all the while being so poetically receptive to the fragrant and devastating strains of beauty and beauty’s harsh wisdom that wind up moving and shaping a life. It’s a strangely romantic and practical book. It holds a skull lightly.
I love these poems. They are romantic, full of stuff, shape shifting, gendered, dark and political. And I am never bored. I have not read these poems before. They are not outside their canon yet they improve and expand it. Like this: often poetry is what you do instead of reading a novel but here you can just do both. And I don’t mean that formally. The pleasure is different but the same. They’ve got some pain and some weight. I mean they’re muscularly true. I want more so I’m going to read this book backwards now.
This is a book that throws me into the time of my own being. It’s a fascinating, intimate book. I experience it, too, as an act of radical friendship because nobody should know this much about anyone else unless you love each other and this book, so quotable and well-phrased at absolutely the worst of moments, and there is a lot of “worst” here because this is a book of suffering, is framed by love--of family and friends and sex as the bedrock of health, and love of the city too, that right of return, Porochista’s Sick is so cosmopolitan, thrumming, diaristic. And politics too of course and Porochista’s eternally homeless feeling makes Sick a globally apt and outwardly gesturing book of love.
I’m a gone and committed fan of what’s happening in Birhan Keskin’s Y’ol. It shakes me up in my writing, heart and mind. It’s in my day. Its flow is nakedly experiential, yet it’s unquestionably operating out of the profound blindness of poetry, language reaches for a place. These verses are dirty like the road of love. Immediately I read Y’ol with all of me, felt challenged and pulled like watching an amazing athlete or yoga practitioner going through their steps and yet it’s the nature of this art form to move and tear and go forward into nothing. It’s a virtuosic dance and a collapse, a reminder and a revelation. Every lover becomes her “us.”
In 1882 Oscar Wilde crossed the Atlantic in a steamer to begin his notorious (and humiliating) yearlong American reading and lecture tour. My country’s PT Barnum style reception of the young aesthete (which included threats of lynching) jump-started Wilde’s alarmed realization that as an Irishman in 19th C. America he was conditionally “black”--while the honking US press kept merrily lampooning him as the latest minstrel show. Back in the UK (never again returning to America) Wilde flipped this depiction of him and his lecture as minstrelsy into the verve behind his enormously successful and comedic plays. Yet this Irishness (read blackness) times queerness conveyed Wilde to Reading Gaol where (occupying the cell numbered C-33 9 the title of the young Hart Crane’s first published poem) he famously witnessed an actual hanging to legendary result. This thoughtful and detailed account of Wilde’s racialized American journey plus an enormously skilled analysis of his kaleidoscopic ability to turn hatred and even carceral experience into art bomb makes this be one of the most devastating, complex and presently political literary biographies I’ve ever read.
The diffuse literary form of Crudo is ridiculously good. It’s an ambient new wave novel, a memoir, even, in which Kathy Acker’s flower is placed in Olivia Laing’s vase. Through this move we can hear the world talking--one woman then two, a man, her husband, cities, homes, living, dying, packing and unpacking - pretty much everything. Crudo ends but does not stop. It keeps turning. Like Kathy. And because Olivia Laing has probably the most art & texture savvy sensitive ear of anyone writing today. Here, try it.
Wit, real teaching and speed all meet up here. Words fall out as the pace quickens, it’s like a clown car bumping into itself, then suddenly the poet takes charge, and backs us right into a confetti of deceptively whacky oracular pronouncements. This is such a read. Trickster Feminism is an awesomely serious book, Anne Waldman’s poetry being nothing but the eye and sound of prophesy itself.
I devoured this book because of its Dickensian devotion to gnarly historical steam punk realism, cause it’s speculative trans--a new category though who needs one--cause Jordy can write and it’s very dirty--because of the time and the world and the place (London) where it largely takes place and because of what humans need and love to do to and with each other. This novel is fantastically engaged with the dark, the smelly, the wild and the cool. And it’s such an obsessive read, sad it was over, I couldn’t stop wanting to go there.
What is so great is that these shouldn’t be great but they are. It’s like clay keeps escaping the statue and making a blur. Like Frank and Paul are in an orgy together sometime somewhere and Paul suddenly (or maybe forever) leans his chin on his fist smiling and pleased (but not always happy) because he knows that it’s great to be a poet--someone bursting out of a bag like a cat now and then just oh to be alive.
The world is so ready for the phantasmic heft of Kristín Ómarsdóttir’. Her poems are transcribed dreams: too wet to be dirty, and absurdly funny — “in a lightless girlhole” — while deeply serious. Waitress in Fall does it all. Kristín’s poems are gigantically passionate, macabre, timely, glorious, and real.
Shy’s poems are abruptly smart, a little violent, devious and ongoing, legendary, mythic, not prose though a little like the voice of god if god decided to speak more collectively for awhile. Shy’s poems to me are so so worth it. And they are crafty--also like god.
Here we have 49 women and men and queers and inter-sexuals throwing their everything at this moment in time when the patriarch is really shaking, and it looks like he’s about to tumble down. We’ve got this shiny new book. People are scared that nothing will be left after he falls except a bunch of poems. Pick up this glowing book as you’re crawling through the rubble, and poem by poem and page by page you’ll begin to know that you’ll be okay. You’re in there, and so are your friends. You won’t starve, you’re safe and strong thanks to all these proud, funny, violent, trembling words. Start memorizing. Cause the future is here and this stuff is true.
These essays blow my mind with their algebraic rhythms by which Michelle Tea manages pain and bliss as they take turns erupting in a pulpy & marvelous parade: landscape, fashion, passion, morality, family, cigarettes--each gets cited frankly and exquisitely like a smart kid with a dirty crayon is explaining to us all how she sees god.
Emily Skillings throws you a lot of curves and I like that. Her poems are actually pretty dense and suddenly she shifts (knowingly) into a radiant simplicity. I love her trembling, and though she asks "is trembling/always bad" it’s clear she knows that’s not true. Emily’s just trying to make us watch better. I love this poet’s compulsive sense of risk, her sense of humor. I love her dread. I love her love of detail. Her revulsion. Her faggotry. So finally - basing my opinion on my exploration of this one writer I’ll say that bitches are smart. Emily Skillings is very special. I’ll keep reading her.
I am such a fan. Andrea Lawlor’s prose is restless, muscular and playful and uncannily able to zero in on the cultural details that make the world Paul is travelling through shimmer and pucker with truth. Stealth too. Lawlor is either a good “liver” or a good liar. They know. In Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl Lawlor takes the ancient trope of “the changeling“ and makes it be me, you. Paul’s such a funny book that studies how studied we are especially when we go out. Who do we seek and who or what is seeking? It’s a tight satisfying masterpiece which I am very glad to hand you if you happen to love sex, clothes, literature which now includes the apparitional blessing of a new elastic genre (to which Paul initiates) that seamlessly makes both what’s out there and in here less lonely, less fixed and less fake. This book updates the present. In Andrea Lawlor’’s fiction the dream walks, and I watch. Paul’s got flickering feet like Mercury.
This book is a major crossing, the poet steps lightly on loads of tingly crap like the apocalyptically organized photos of Andreas Gursky or Hart Crane’s intentionality in a whole new place. No one understands postmodernity better than Jersey boy prelate Adam Fitzgerald who stands tall and grounded as a poet of heart, and excess: cries visionary Madonna tears without irony because the monuments on his riverbanks though toxic and hallucinatory now weep fortitude; even prayer.
In Gossamurmur we see a master poet in the throes of the performance of a lifetime. Waldman rolls out technology, fantasy, wit, nature, passion and luscious fields of rapturous information for our temporary perusal and then with her magic stylus she flicks it away. Her poet is paranoid, funny, friendly, and lusty and all her wide passages of poethood, personhood, and history are cinched by a streaming network of tiny lines that refresh, quake and accrue. The trembling suppleness of this poem creates a living miniature of the mythic ‘archive of poetry’ which for Waldman is the holy grail--the deep subject of this wildly successful poem which she defends like a fire-breathing dragon by becoming it.
I get this pinwheel relationship to wisdom and history when I read Simone White. I’m in her dream, but it's a remarkable solidly packed one informed by the quotidian rarity of for instance a prose disquisition on lotion and skin and haircare especially in winter. Like Dana Ward’s, her work sends me searching. Like what part of speech is here. As I’m wondering Simone sometimes exits first, and I even feel that a real piece of her poem is adamantly not here and that is her privacy, her power and her skill so what kind of quest is it, this beautiful complex and alive work. Here’s my best guess. Of Being Dispersed is an ur text of the fourth wave of feminism which we come to realize is ocean and women are now standing on it and amidst this clatter of voices Simone White walks.
Brandon Brown writes long poems. And reading them is like watching television with someone great.
Black Wave is definitely Michelle Tea’s most fearless book. Charles Dickens sharp and attentive to the morose and glittering detail like always yet Black Wave threatens to take everything and everybody down. It’s Michelle Tea’s apocalyptic book and I was unable to put it down for fear I no longer trusted what was out there beyond my reading so destabilizing and palpable is this bad fairytale come true. It’s radically honest and scary book. And trust me, it’s a bloody and wonderful place Michelle has spun, fantastic, dark and ultimately and entirely awake.
Sometimes I just want to squeeze the planet in my hands and see what squirts between my fingers. I read Brane Mozetic’s poems which are tiny novels, so frail and strong and needy and stoic. They end like tiny movies with the one more thing that stops the trail, there’s a chaos to his poems and a specificity like the exact details of our time and we only know it through rough gorgeous lines like these.
I like that Peter frequently over bets, this poet gets in trouble and needs the world to get him out of it. It’s like this: I saw the frill of light today/walking on the path. It’s speechy, meaning (for me) that his writing actually grows ornamental, and then suddenly it turns slight like trash in the street and it’s ravishingly strong. Gizzi’s strength is a world of big ideas buttressed by fragility and the incidental. And he’s often complaining. I’d call it girly. Even post gender. It’s strong and it’s pretty work.
Emily Yoon’s skill to mix knowledge with mundane conditions, to let facts old and new bob in the day and become poetry. She’s not a judgmental artist. She’s awake to it. Which lets us in. You think, there’s something important here. I must read on.
Sad Girl Poems are revolutionary and sad and finely wrought on the fly meaning life does not stop for Christopher Soto and his wide and deep delicacy poem by poem makes my life say yeah more than just promoting and approving I keep reading, needing to be living in the world of them.
Who doesn’t love art that catches, like our soul gets caught in its material as we’re drifting. Text is dream and two dreams in one I think exposes the machinery like Sappho always does, did. Karen’s Or, the Ambiguities is not like that or else exactly triggering my longing to read Pierre again been meaning to for ages but this is just such distressed work so good such poetry.
Stacy’s Hart Island is so beautiful like the first time I saw 2nd Avenue w cobblestones. This poem’s no story, but all memory and event splash:
places of death redacted
though each unique as in
corner of Broadway and
She takes on New York’s “potter’s field” in a mode so quotable meaning full of moments all of me wants to occupy. It’s a good book!
Lucky Anne Waldman to have such an art mom, poet mom, critical mom and aesthetic private detective mom who detailed the New York cultural world of the 60s and 70s sending to “Annie”, still up at Bennington this detailed and thoughtful account of for example Bill Berkson’s historic workshop at the New School whose roster included “Miss Mayer” (Bernadette) Hanna Weiner, Peter Schjeldahl and so many others. The early New York School comes crisply alive in the riveting letters of the fledgling poet Frances LeFevre. Do we have another such mother/daughter correspondence like this anywhere else in the world, ever. It is wonderful stuff.
I read Awash on a sunny windy day in West Texas from whence we “go” to Cambridge Mass to see Emily Dickson’s desk and later Mount Auburn cemetery to Bob Creeley’s grave and later on Hetti Jones’s east village apartment that once held a press. At Joanne Kyger’s table we read Anne Waldman’s Iovis. Thanks to Dorothy Wordsworth’s diaries it seems we visit she. Each light inflected visitation holds writing not aloft but as an alive three dimensional thing where we are swaying alongside Linda Russo and a train of others. It’s pure being this reading, that’s its delight as we move about poetry and its moments like it were art, or history intimacy itself and as Russo succinctly puts it “the lack of an ‘authoritative’ reading frets no one involved in this occasion.”
Is all life junk - sparkly and seductive and devastating - just waiting to be told correctly by someone who will hold our hand and walk with us a while confirming that what we’re living is true. This is a good proud urban book, a sad and specific blast for the fearless to read. Thank you Jami.
This is such a beautiful book because the real thought balloon of the art world is exactly these brainy and ecstatic citizens’ writings. Hang out a lot with them please--gain everything and miss nothing. Watch ‘democracy’ get palped and monitored, challenged and witnessed here. I’d call Social Medium a deep ‘vacation’ into the present which we totally need.
Mix of hey that’s poetry (uncanny resistance) with hey that’s a text and smashing goals and fulfilling them along the way and say my parents fulfilled them. Doing it differently being alive and an artist. I love this work. Unpredictable and sweet and strong to continue.
I can and have read Morgan Parker’s poems over and over. They make me high and think like this: “her mind & her thoughts can go anywhere in a poem. She pulls us up short, and when she says ‘the sky the sky’ I feel that expanse... ” I start taking notes. “She is making a map of what human can be... she’s raucous and engaged... indeterminate, visceral ... collisions ... these are full adventures in scale ... ” Morgan Parker’s both intellectual and concerned. Where sentences come from (in me) breaks down when I read these poems. There are piles of masterpieces here. “I’m not the king of black people” to point you to one. She writes history and pleasure & kitsch and abstraction then vanishes like a god in about 13 inches and I mean that is really cool.
Danniel’s written a travel book that doesn’t move in a way. Danniel is--his poetness, his despair his glory while moving around futilely in America in the absent of labor and landscape in the spaciousness of writing and time. How is this so readable when nothing/everything happens. I guess cause his C’est la guerre counts.
This is such a brilliant “toast”, this swift and pained and skimming history of Jamaica sweetly written by a poet with a cop dad. In a compellingly light and darkly heavy hand Colin Channer’s Providential does justice to the diasporic reality of places being “there but not there” including of course America the poet’s current home. Lush lists and lighfootedness and keen word choices like “bosuns”--“men who drive other men as work” all restore a limb to our comprehension of colonial trauma and make his Providential be one of the most lucid and telling poetry books of this exact time.
In a way (the way I’m taking it) Laura Mullen’s Complicated Grief follows (with giant dropouts) everything she knows about being a monster. Her aegis covers women, (young ones and aging) unnatural disasters and literature. If something packed could wander like Julianne Moore’s mind, to the benefit of everyone, but more like a whole department store or a library feeling snarky, shuffled itself and somehow it was wise.
Rich, rich filthy writing and reading. Reading that makes you shake your head. Makes you want to stay in and writhe. Daniel Borzutsky’s The Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy is thick and dense and full of time shifts. It’s moral and it’s trippy like an old kid cheering the demise of the world along. It starts and slows down. And that’s good cause you don’t want to miss even a bit of Daniel’s kaleidoscopic journey through American horror and global horror. Contemporary and historic horror. Mythic horror. Rhythmic horror. It’s a real aching disgusting pile of prophetic shit. It’s here.
What MB Caschetta’s novel brilliantly proposes is an underground railroad for girls. It feels like one of those girls grew up and wrote this. I loved reading this and rooting for CeeCee, the hero of Miracle Girls as she struggles to survive her own family and her saintly little girl voyage with the aid of intergenerational healing, and the vintage magic of radical nuns and priests from a time when they worked for peace and helped the lost girls of the world find home.
In pitch perfect vernacular that’s gauzy and precise, shallow and ambitious, and smugly hilariously Michael Friedman slaps our attention around like nobody’s business while delivering the impossible: totally intelligent writer’s fiction that’s also a porny distraction for anyone who’d might want to graze like a silver drone or a celebrity whale (there truly is one in here named “Monstro”) in the smarmy circles of entertainment culture, glam spirituality, eco culture and everyday dharma of the streets, restaurants, the bedrooms, and biospheres and of the hip haute global media bourgeoisie. It’s almost hard to read alone it’s so gorgeously nasty.
These are the poems of an urban man and a little sad a touch bitter but it?s raining out tonight and from where I am I notice Bill often likes to break into a little dance. I want to say that these are moral poems because in the hands of Bill Evans morality means feeling and whether he’s listing the parts of a "a little pilgrim" ("we're so/ proud of you") or snapping a joke what chiefly is holding his poetic together is heart which makes his work dangerous and rare in this disparate and deeply informed moment in time. We need his poems because he feels and so I kept reading and wanting more. These are the heart beats of an ancient man looking at history from left to right and now staring us right in the eye. We are not alone.
She hears her mother’s voice, but it is caught between two echos and a jail. Wow. No blurb I would write could capture the expansive pulpy difficulty of this saint of a little book. Disassociated, far-flung, atomized... how do you dub the streaming pileup of someone lost, unborn, already dead. Porny anime? A hot mess? Female? Carolyn Zaikowski’s A Child is Being Killed, this tiny novel is a messenger not of “truth” but beautiful wrath.
I like Sarah Rosenthal’s Manhatten because it’s generous with self. Also alarmingly well written. And best of all, Manhatten awkwardly and beautifully makes the claim that heterosexuals are humans too!
To have a volume about lesbian activism that focuses on the most effective, most publicized, and most controversial group, the Lesbian Avengers, is almost too good to be true. Eating Fire is an intimate activist handbook that offers a generous ‘us,’ and we can happily enter its space from so many angles.
Charles is writing in the simplest of forms, so simple they become radical. I love reading his work because he's writing on the cusp of what poetry is.
Nicole’s masterfully absorbing graphic novel is a giant reminder of how intimate the changing shape of the graphic novel can be and Nicole J. Georges’s is simply an epic for our time. Anyone with a family, who loves dogs, who needs advice and wants to understand the inner workings of a complex and magical female artist must read Calling Dr. Ruth. I couldn’t put this novel down for a couple of evenings and I'm still shook by her animating, wide and searching squares.
I like reading Caitlin McDonnell’s poems because they're frank, a little bit frantic, lurching and embedded in weather meaning what happens around the poem is frequently how the poet escapes herself--by noticing that there is a world and that it’s changed.
This is Peter’s best book and if you don’t know what that means just imagine your sweetest, most perverse storytelling friend asks to meet because he has a confession to make. When you arrive he informs you that he loves his cat more than life itself, or exactly that much and then he opens his shirt and shows you the cat tattoo and then he begins to tell you of his love and in a puff hours vanish and it’s absolutely riveting.
Mary Jo Bang’s Dante steps wisely with a Mayakovsky-esque gigantism and a hard-boiled coyness all her own while maintaining a truly virtuous loyalty to that beloved living corpse, The Inferno, that startles the medieval masterpiece into coming alive, tout suite, blinking and twitching. Part of her utter contemporaneity is that she even (Thank God!) allows her Virgil (who feels like some wonderful old actor that we all know) to take a not-so-subtle potshot at Christianity’s rigid gate-keeping policy towards those (including himself) condemned to spend eternity in Limbo because as Virgil sniffs “They didn’t worship at the right altar.” Mary Jo Bang’s richly colloquial voyage through hell is not just towering and new, but deeply funny and knowable. As the sad planet of disaster looms closer and closer to us this is the book you want to be holding in your hands.
Stealth, this reeling motet by poets Maureen Seaton & Sam Ace, feels like a Tarkovsky film, all of them strung together, about the end of the world, these poems continuously spilling themselves into other spaces ad finitum. And giving us a tiny window on that. It feels like a shell-game. Friendship and language. Stealth is excited and joyous, while dying, dragging one’s tired ass through a desert, hallucinating. It feels like The Wasteland but the footnotes are fun. Stealth is more boy than girl. I don’t think Philip Marlowe, I think of Philip Whalen with a pilot’s silk scarf tied around his neck. Man or a girl’s doll.
These multiples never get solved, only raised here. It’s a dandyish book. It’s a very high poem. I think I mean that stealth is simply the past tense of steal or living finally with everything you stole -living well in a paradise of your own.
In his poems of reportage, Anis Shivani watches the horrors of history play out ghoulishly like sporting events. But mainly his writing seeks sanctuary by looking poetry and its makers (and a stray president to boot) squarely in the face. Pound, Whitman, Virginia Woolf, even George Bush. Though his Whitman is big and wide I ultimately think of Anis Shivani as a detail man, a miniaturist even, at heart. In his “To Robert Creeley” he nails it best when a creaking sign at night does awesome tribute to the man.
Evelyn Reilly’s Apocalypso holds a cobbled kind of futurist voyage that moves by belief and uncovered loss to quickly deliver an overwhelming sensation (allegory) that as in Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” we are on this journey too and have no hope (and want none) of getting off it. Turning these pages we discover that the museum of the future is a ship and Evelyn Reilly has scribbled our fate.
Joining the illustrious company of other poet architects: Michael Ondaatje (In The Skin Of A Lion), Rene Gladman (Event Factory), Walt Disney (Disneyland), and Matthew Sharpe (Jamestown) Amira Hanafi takes us on a walking tour that prefabricates the history of a city (Chicago) as a live performance cooling on the window sill to feed hoboes, and enabling them (us) to walk on into the next story. History in Amira Hanafi’s hands is serious and weighty fun.
Small Crimes is a heartbreaking and beautiful valentine between historical moments. Mexico’s early twentieth century art world, its Hollywood moment, is sweetly subverted in Tom Carey’s twitching hands. Reading it I’m grateful for his insouciant homoeroticsm and popping dialogue because they make this novel more memory than simulacrum. Meaning it really feels true.
Jeanne Thornton‘s incredibly surprising and awkward fantasy novel falls into an improbable space that feels like the terrible school of Robert Walser’s Jacob Von Gunten and also the acid-laced wooded setting of Angela Carter’s novella Love. Yet Thornton’s Dr.Bantam is pure Americana, cinematic and idly mean. It’s lush and trashy. I guess it’s the most graphic-novelly feeling book about loss I can think of. It’s all punk heart, messily thudding.
Flat as Barbara Kruger, and truly without humor and I’m thinking yet that there is actually so much fluidity and mood here so that the surface of the text keeps expanding with air and then not so much shriveling but more kind of rolling, stepping into another sequence of purposes so that this “writer” is just a perfectly reasonable ambassador from someplace else that is endlessly being proposed to you: yes I do like it here. It’s the background... no, it’s a kind of self effacement, yes but like a coat with really good buttons and so on - the coat changes and the buttons do too. Maybe there’s just no ownership at all. I mean nowhere. I mean anywhere. I mean certainly not in this work. There are many claims but nothing stays. Like the most elaborate sex, which I think is finally not so funny at all but you will like it. I know I do.
About ten lives occur in this very short novel. One swiftly becomes the background of the next, then that one looms up fast and for a moment you think oh this is the life. And it is ending. I like the swift consciousness with which Suzanne Scanlon orchestrates all of it and even more I admire the true (and maneuvered) intimacy that holds me here on the page despite the fact that inside and out of this volume of Promising Young Women there are so many of us, lives, and women and female writers. You wonder if we matter at all and Suzanne Scanlon says in a multitude of quietly intelligent and felt ways that we do, helplessly, all of us do, no matter.
Bobby Byrd writes poems like a novelist. Epic ones. His lines are full of fiction, bullshit and beauty. He’s an emotional writer. He is often haunted by personal tragedy, his and anyone else’s. Bad things happen in this book. Existence verges on becoming a joke—if not for the sweetness that suffuses Bobby Byrd’s poems and says that a life lived, part by part, is holy.
This is a novella or a thing-ie made out of the strange uncommon beauty that fills the empty spaces outside of capitalism. Scenes change as swiftly as music. Life and death are moments. The book is liquid. Read for yourself and see if this isn’t true.
In poetic documentary prose Ann Rower undoes one of the crimes of British and American literature: the ghosting of lesbian desire. Lee (Krasner) and Elaine (DeKooning) are caught being hot for each other in the afterlife by literary sleuth Ann Rower who herself is coming out in prose that turns like the daily news if it were full of bondage, art history and female sexual nature getting off in the most lurid and dirty place of all—mid-life.
What Megan made is so smart—an obsessive poet’s collage of homage of deftly felt and cut opinion. It’s an unvague Andy!
Camille Roy rides the catch between poetry and prose like a girl who grew up riding horses. Her steed through Sherwood Forest feels a lot like R. Crumb—you know big women piggybacking little men and everyone living in a female forest (I believe) or else this reading journey feels like the rational mind on a weekend holiday with fantasy and lust bridled only by the limitation that it sound good and Sherwood Forest absolutely does.
These really change my definition of poetry. A little bit. If it was all sound--more or less, yet you walked away from that limitation at some point--maybe the end. The end just stands there sorta. You know what I mean by sound is rhyme. Yeah kind of rhyme. And then there’s some sentiment. These poems are not so much sexy but full of love I think. In fact that might be what the rhyming’s all about. The safety of love--perhaps. Whatever it is driving this it’s more than an idea and it’s not messy at all, or smug. It’s some new definition of poetry. It doesn’t rhyme with family but it’s about that long and that complete. And open, finally. I think Gertrude Stein. But not too much. You’ll see what I mean if you read this book.
Neighbor is a sweet saga of disconnection. A collectivity of loss ...
This is much better than reading a friend’s journal. It’s more like watching somebody you love in the bathtub talking to himself. You’re like, wow, he’s even good at taking a bath. After reading Infinity Blues (which I think is a great title), I give Ryan Adams the best compliment I ever got--and the only reason for reading anyone’s poetry. Ryan, I really like your mind.
This reminds me that I would like to know everything about this person.
I like how she falls through the present into prehistory (of this or that specific thing) in a blink. Supported by the rhythm of the claws of love, a hand on the back of your head, the warmth inside of coldness of the daily fading world—an avalanche of quiet risk-taking, this book sings.
congrats for epigraphing your book w audre lorde. You fucking man, I love you. This is extremely crowded work. I probably want to “cover” his book. His poetry ought to be recorded--with xylophone. He percussively uses good verbs: “penetrated, petted, perused.” He’s persuasive. It’s news as it ought to arrive. If I were to call these poems fake weather reports what would I mean by the word fake... Greg’s very nostalgic or is he just using the media sweetly as a kind of distinction. To be here and be here again
to say we are here? Not just history? treaties, appropriation, bills”
Vanessa Place’s La Medusa is a novel of a million brilliant suggestions about the mind and time and us. What seems impossible is that she is pulling ‘it’ off in this impressive tome that moves like traffic when you have gotten it impossibly incredibly right. No wrong moves here. We get home fast.
This is sleazily insidious writing constructed as if you are already in it, I mean, smothered in sex and sticky frosty and the close proximity of death. I really admire Peggy Munson’s Origami Striptease. It’s a good, dirty book.
A completely fascinating and lovely book. In every case the diva is a kind of saint--for her suffering, for the emotional warble in her voice, as she sang, as she spoke those classic lines. It’s hard to miss the dovetailing of the gay male writer’s psyche and the voluptuous (much more than her body) voice of the diva. She shines her light on the way. Man, does she ever.
Michelle Tea’s second book is really brave. If you want to know how dangerous and great and awful it is to be a girl you’ll scarf Valencia right up. There’s so much colliding and ‘sharing.’ I mean in the good way--sharing bodies, drugs, stories and clothes. The street today is full of girls if you haven’t noticed.
Ana Bozicevic’s work is sort of animist--it’s either about silence or the racket of the world. How does she do it? Clicks the switch to say its silent & it’s happening then on a distant tiny stage. She’s muttering, and then it’s a story and a very good one. I mean in poetry at some point you don’t know what the writer means. In Ana’s work I watch “it” (the meaning) vanish (all the time) & I trust it.
A deep, dark, female masterpiece.
Ellyn Maybe is the best poet on her side of the country.
Not a play, but an exploding poem for two bodies by a bright new writer from the West Coast, Camille Roy.
Ali Liebegott’s the beautifully worthless is an outrageous act of kindness.
Catherine Wagner’s “New Job” might be the last great book of the oughts. Part of its delight is that it is not constant. Its eyelid adjusts and flutters throughout. It’s three books at least: fuzzy portraiture of energy and thought like early moderns: Arthur Dove and Georgia O’Keefe--and even like Pound, in Wagner’s familial way of tugging at language. It’s also a bit Don Juan (as in Castaneda). It’s a new age book: searching, awkward and useful too--a momentary sex manual for girls — then a dirty adult notebook. My New Job is physical. A shucking work. One picks up some spin on Sylvia Plath but what I truly felt was Frankenstein. My New Job is tinkering with life. I found myself imagining Wagner wondering what else Plath might have done—not instead of killing herself but what if she just wrote something different. Frankenstein kept Mary Shelley alive for a very long time while Ariel simply pointed to Plath’s own demise. In My New Job “The women step out, the men go in” and the edifice C. Wagner’s made seems an increasingly wider and wider kind of turning—colossal and somatic—through her own body & the bodies of others. Cathy’s Job is a joyous multiple. It’s a lift.
As a reader I feel included a lot in Julie Carr’s hard and beautiful book. I can pretty much hear its author speak—a whispering that enables us into its world... a masterfully sutured journey, painfully useful. Sarah—Of Fragments and Lines is a book I know I will return to. And urge it on my friends who have lives too and write in them.
nice sweep! the spine of her poems takes either side by surprise a wide canny voice in conversation really such a good book it seems it could fade get dark do anything it wants
Reading Gerrit Henry’s definitive collection of poems you slam up against some big contradictions fast. Many of the poems here exhibit the glitzy ease, high art, smart remarks and chattiness that commonly gets associated with New York school writing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But there’s so much else--poems jumping around - alternately obscure, wise, goofy, trippy and romantic. And hard and sad, too. It’s such a rich cascade of viewpoints as a collection that this volume can be hard going for a reader in spots. I mean if you wanted one kind of a ride. But as you near the end, especially having read the poem that to me is his masterpiece: “Program”, how Henry’s contradictions operate now becomes clear. Each statement stands so tremulously, because what’s ultimately questionable to Henry is just “being” itself. What’s he’s done is both astonishing and bold. This is a whole collection of poems written by Hamlet.
Zipper Mouth is a short tome of infinitesimal reach, a tiny star to light the land. Huh. Laurie Weeks is one of those writers whose reputation is pure buzz, like every bit she puts out (and Weeks is a most delicate and cautiously productive author, kicking us a story of absurd greatness every few years--more we scream like hungry children, more with our reading bowls held out.) almost immediately becomes genetic material of a body politic. She’s like an avatar of the known. All her vile and delicious prose indicates directions, connections and patterns you’ve probably already been moving along but no one had used those exact networks before as apparatus to write fiction. Like as if that big monster in “Alien” were a sentence. Or a paragraph. A recurring one. Weeks is an architect of the strange and quivering interrelations of the world and plainly uses them, like how rooms in a big house are said to “communicate.” Zipper Mouth, the long-awaited, predicted book, is like a song we shall continue to meet each other through. Yeah that’s what I mean, this book is a drug and a rug, a magic carpet for a group that’s growing, and on it we get a very good and even paradigm-shifting ride. A going and a knowing. How does she do this by the way? Attitude, word choice, erudition, humor, and I will say of course that there is a blatantly female thing, and she writing right on it, with it where the most edgy and savvy and witty human is also the subaltern. Zipper Mouth is a glittering and gruesome and unforgettable poem cause it’s a pain that we know.
“Hey girlfriend,” Kathleen was singing. “I got a proposition.” The proposition wasn’t that you would go back to her room, alone, it was that you would come out into the common space with her and all the rest of the girls. Sara Marcus’s Girls in Front is a great & true & real history. Thank, god. At last. If you teach make it get read in your school. If you don’t, do it anyway.
This is a beautiful crackpot’s history of America. Travis Nichols takes us on a godly road trip through tobacco, love, and Boom Boom, landing us profoundly still at the world’s loneliest tourist trap. It’s a curious animal version of all those ‘I was looking for’ books because here the animal (the writing) actually changes when it reaches its destination. And happily Off We Go is also a book about a man loving women: ‘A toast,’ I say finally, ‘to the mother’s side’.
Filip is not a wailing. Oh no. He’s just deliriously glad to be waking the tightrope between leaf and leaving, Corso, Mayakovsky and DiPrima and McClure. O’Hara too. Sound old? It’s not. I couldn’t stop reading his seductive devastation. It’s an experienced text. I feel changed by Filip Marinovich tonight and if I heard him read this long poem tomorrow I’d feel changed again. He urges us all to make a mess, to stay foolishly alive across deaths and borders while splashing in a puddle of language. We get to do that? Yes! he proclaims, vehemently, author of such permissive verse, a dirty Dr. Seuss, endlessly capable of teaching us.
Tim Dlugos was a major figure almost inadvertently by responding helplessly and powerfully to his own need to write poems and be spiritual and sexual all in one and the same gesture. He could not help writing these wonderful poems, so full of history and desire.
Perhaps it was in the 5th century –I know this for a fact—that a certain government official in China chose to drop out of public life and devote himself to music and poetry, drunkenness and pure conversation. Soon he had a group of friends who had also left their “lives” and this group became poster children for the ideal life in Asia for a very long time. Even today. When Jon and Andy walk around Manhattan talking about thinking I feel like they are a moving page from that very fine idea in which small talk is large and nothing is more interesting or full or more entrancing than allowing the city to model for you—and walking around it too, becoming it.
The first time I ever heard about how hard is was to be a left-handed person I whirled around and began to sympathetically imagine the difficulties of phone booths and toll booths and doors—all of it, the world, arranged for the comfort of righties. If anyone had next explain to me that part of what was so uncomfortable about being female was exactly the same—not just the machinery of the world but its dictionaries and handbooks, the bibles and schools-then I could have known why maneuvering it all in this car, my body was so inexplicably hard. With dazzling humor and devastating weirdness and skill The Mikvah Queen is one of the first books I would hand to a girl in the new world where we begin to tell it all and even celebrate the excess of females and their perversities and beauties the way everything generally likes to celebrate men. Jennifer Natalya Fink’s books is exciting odd and gross and disgustingly new. It’s so good to go this far with Roth and then I think no, she went past. She’s shooting by the discomfort in them. I feel welcoming The Mikvah Queen like a human for a change. Is this sci-fi? Females imagine and laugh? Their bodies are real and slipping into a bath they ask why. This compulsively readable book wants to know.
Gail Scott has redefined landscape to include all weather, inside and out, including sex and a female sexual vision—a vision of being that’s pure animation, an action made up of all the tiny windows of information constantly opening and closing in the rhythm of the way we know a place in time, for instance Paris. Her Paris is pretty stunning art.
Maggie Nelson has such drive in her language. Things do not dangle off this drive, but rather get resolutely pushed aside by her poem’s forward motion. Also, she exercises the infinitesimal pause that is great poetry. Her Shiner is totally cool. She delivers the goods with fiendish delight.
You could possibly figure out what poetry is by examining this generous collection of lyrics by Elinor Naunen. Is it when the opaqueness of the particular makes lists—beautiful long ones? Her work is boyish girlish. Though it’s not trans-gender, it’s trans-William Carlos Williams. Kind of a female anthem to male dumbness. I mean, obviously parts of nature are devouring other parts in a gentle way. It’s midwestern philosophical, that is, thoroughly practical while adamantly anti-work. Poet Nauen likes baseball and constantly writes about it. Her poetry has no existential dilemma, no interrogated “I.” The self simply goes away in a state of chuckling awe. It’s first a book with many long innings and a love of tight pants. I approve, hang around. In American Guys, all parts of the reader get satisfied, even ones she didn’t know she had.
These are spacious, hot, lyrical, obsessive poems. Oh I guess you call them performance texts. I love this book.
Janice Lee is a genius.
Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer—she writes the way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before out reading eyes. In Event Factory the details of her dream gleam specifically yet they bob on the surface of a deeper wider abyss we all might become engulfed in. It has the strange glamour of Kafka’s Amerika, this book, but the narrator, lusty and persuasive is growing up.
The Public Gardens is a brilliant, wonderful book, a sort of a wild institution, intense and readable. Linda Norton looks at the world like a dog who likes to tear apart couches—repressed but not for long. Though full of shame, this book is shameless. A life is freely divulged as are the multitude of homeopathic bits from the author’s reading list. The overall experience of moving through The Public Gardens’ shuttling prose and poetry is quietly breath-taking. I have felt and learned much from this book! Her “Gardens” are both organized and entirely disorderly—anything and anyone from any point in history might saunter through, and that’s the meaning of public isn’t it? I find myself loving this writer’s mind, light touch, and generous heart and I, reader, didn’t want to go when it was done. My bowl is out. More!
I love reading Noel Black’s poems. They are fragrant and strong. Also there’s the basic thing—
he’s just got an interesting mind.
Copyright © 2021 Eileen Myles