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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tarpaulin Sky Reviews has moved to a new location

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Susan M. Schultz's Memory Cards
reviewed by Joseph Harrington

Susan M. Schultz
Memory Cards: 2010-2011 Series

ISBN: 978-0-935162-46-2
Poetry /  124 pages / pbk.
Singing Horse, 2011

Reviewed by Joseph Harrington

He tells me about a prisoner, 72 years old, stuffed inside a suicide shirt, who screams in Khmer that someone is beheading him. Thus does the wide world find its way into the prose poetry of Susan M. Schultz, most recently in her Memory Cards, 2010-2011 Series (hereafter MC 10-11). Each poem is limited by the space of an index card, and each begins with a line written by another poet, chosen randomly (as I began this paragraph with one chosen randomly from Schultz’ book): there is a “Lissa Wolsak Series,” an “Emily Dickinson Series,” a “John Ashbery Series,” and so on, based upon whose poem the line was taken from. (“Infection in the sentence breeds despair” – did Dickinson really write that??)

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Richard Froude’s Fabric reviewed by Megan Burns

Richard Froude

ISBN 9780982989609
Horse Less Press, 2011
107 pages, paperback

Reviewed by Megan Burns

Fragmenting the Book of Memory

Richard Froude’s Fabric is a journey into the making of songs and the weaving of subtle textures that amuse and disorient the reader. Subtitled “A Prelude to the Last American Book,” Froude tests the edges where lyric meets narrative and where structure has the freedom to dance into disarray. The word “prelude” is a loaded starting point as the reader sets off to define this text in relation to an unknown: does prelude in this sense mean as in music, a short piece free in style, or is it a nod to Wordworth’s Preludes, or is the phantom text of the Last American Book truly haunting this book. The answers are probably all of the above as Froude’s technique is quite similar to Susan Howe’s The Birth-Mark, where disparate impressions, images, and histories are brought together to tell a story, and part of the story is how the story makes itself on the page.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Matthew Henriksen's Ordinary Sun reviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin

Matthew Henriksen
Ordinary Sun

ISBN: 978-0-9844752-2-3
Poetry / 120 pp. / pbk.
Black Ocean, 2011

Reviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin

One of the most infamous images in Luis Buñuel's iconic film Un Chien Andalou is the scene in which a woman's eye is slit. Immediately, the omniscience of the narrator is shattered, opening the movie up to many interpretations and therefore many authors.

Similarly, Matthew Henriksen's Ordinary Sun opens with the line "An eye is not enough," splintering the reader's point of view before the text is even begun. "What I cannot find in the morning is most myself," concludes the third poem, further asserting the transparency of the narrator; the second line of the following poem reads "where I was beyond repair." Even the book's structure mimics that fragmentation, being comprised of many subtitled sections, including two from Henriksen's previous chapbook, Is Holy (horse less press).

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Nathalie Stephens's We Press Ourselves Plainly reviewed by J. Mae Barizo

Nathalie Stephens
We Press Ourselves Plainly

ISBN 978-0-9844598-0-3
5" x 7" | 120 pp. | pbk.
Nightboat Books 2010

Reviewed by J. Mae Barizo

“I should like,” the narrator declares in We Press Ourselves Plainly “for my own name made illegible…” Indeed, we never learn the identity of the devastating speaker whose body and mind is the landscape on which violence unfolds. It is not a pleasant voice nor is it necessarily appealing, yet it enthralls in its immediacy, a distinctive intonation which begs the reader to devour it in its singular attempt to articulate the tragedy of history.

A 97-page book-length poem in the form of continuous blocks of text separated only by ellipses, Stephens endeavors neither to elucidate the source of violence nor to expose a chronological representation, therefore the fragments—some of which are complete sentences and others only partial slivers thereof—have the aesthetic of immutability and timelessness, a voice existing in the present moment yet also in the dredges of the past. “There is a room and there is a war” the speaker declares, yet the poem exists also outside of a room and concurrently in various locations: Berry Head (a coastal headland in the English Riviera), Paris, Hyde Park, Fallujah and Donostia (the Basque region of Spain). Perhaps there has been a war or there will be one. “The wars become one war” and “The wars are indistinguishable” Stephens writes, adding to the atemporality of the poem and the omnipresence of violence. The book opens with a quote by Franz Kafka: “Everyone carries a room about inside him.” which further puts forward that the location is the body itself which bears the carnage. The post-script furthers this idea of the body as an object of compression and cruelty, stating that one of “the active functions of this work is compression...of all the possible spaces pressed into that body, upon which the pressures of historical violence and its attendant catastrophes come to bear.”

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Shira Dentz’s black seeds on a white dish reviewed by Jenny Gropp Hess

Shira Dentz
black seeds on a white dish

Shearsman Books, 2010
ISBN: 1848611285
6"x9" | 90 pp | pbk. | $15

Reviewed by by Jenny Gropp Hess

Like most of us who reach a certain age, I’ve been close to people who have died. I’ve woken up in the night feeling as though an aneurism of grief has burst in my body and not known how to feel or write further into the sensation, though I understood it was comprised of many things: absence as the result of loss, the feeling of my own mortality, the sense that I could never, ever see that person again, and etcetera. But what to do with that ‘etcetera,’ I always wonder as my blood stills. Is that aneurism a body of its own, something I might slow and freeze-frame with the goal of finding a more understandable fact or, to quote Emerson in “Language,” “the terminus or circumference of the invisible world”?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jennifer L. Knox's The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway reviewed by Kat Good-Schiff

[Best poetry book cover in 2010? --Eds.]

Jennifer L. Knox
The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway

Bloof Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9826587-1-0
84 pp. | $15.00

Reviewed by Kat Good-Schiff

As should be expected, much is strange and unnatural in The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, the third book of poems by Jennifer L. Knox. Murderers, opera singers, and coyotes rub shoulders across the varied, yet equally wild, psychic terrains of desert, suburbia, and silent movies. In the poem “Cars,” we coast downhill with the speaker and her father at night in a quietly hurtling truck, unseen animals lurking just beyond the headlights. Many of these poems have a similarly ominous and thrilling momentum. Like a freeway accident, it’s impossible not to stare at the narrator of “The Clean Underwear/Ambulance Thing,” who declares, “When I was 12, I had sex with my / stepmother. It was fantastic, / and not a bit weird.”

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D.J. Dolack’s 12 Poems reviewed by Raina Lauren Fields

D.J. Dolack, 12 Poems

D.J. Dolack
12 Poems
Eye For An Iris Press, 2010
6.5×5.5, 28pp., handbound

Reviewed by Raina Lauren Fields

I think I picked the perfect day to read D.J. Dolack’s chapbook, 12 Poems, a collection of handmade: hand-stamped, hand-stapled, hand-folded, and hand-pressed poems, the first collection from Dolack since 2005’s The Sad Meal. I read the book during a rainy afternoon in early March—the rain tapping lightly against the windows, water funneling down the drain pipes and out in the puddles in the alleyway, a slow, continued flow of weather. Perhaps a better time to read Dolack’s poetry would have been in the evening or at dawn, when I imagine most of his poems are set, under the “low shelf haze” (I THOUGHT WE DISCUSSED THIS ALREADY).

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Lucy Ives's Anamnesis reviewed by Broc Rossell

Lucy Ives
Slope Editions, 2009
ISBN 9780977769841
Pbk., 83 pp.

Reviewed by Broc Rossell

Anamnesis and The Harmonograph

In an essay written to accompany his recent exhibit at the Reykjavik Art Museum, regarding the relationship between a viewer and a procedural object (such as the waterfalls he built beneath New York City's bridges last year), Olafur Eliasson remarks that one alternative to the ageing Euclidian conception of space is waves. Waves, argues Eliasson, are a more helpful concept for understanding how an individual in all her complexity responds to and interacts with a work of art which itself is responding to and interacting with nature. "These can be waves of information, but also the communication of information through physical waves such as microwaves, long waves and frequency. Electricity is a kind of wave, as are my words, when they leave my mouth as condensed air, spreading radiantly, entering your ears. Also light."1

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K. Lorraine Graham's Terminal Humming reviewed by Joe Atkins

K. Lorraine Graham
Terminal Humming
Edge Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781890311315

Reviewed by Joe Atkins

There’s many ways to describe the poems of K. Lorraine Graham’s Terminal Humming—Gurlesque, flarf, procedural, postmodern—and likely most of them would fit in some fashion, accommodating a singular aspect of the wide range of voices, sources, and techniques within this particular appropriation of language, this particular poetics. Yet, within the pages of this compelling volume, the visions of circulation, connective tissues gone awry, there’s a sense that semantics have shifted into a collage of relativism, and what a wondrous multitude, that. Which is not to say there isn’t an underlying truth here, however elusive this truth may be, but that as the language slides from one amazing line to another, one moment to the next, the real substance is actually contained in this entertaining, leaping action.

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Samuel Amadon's Like A Sea reviewed by Joe Atkins

Samuel Amadon
Like A Sea
Iowa Poetry Prize Series
University of Iowa Press, 2010
6"x8.5", 100 pp., pbk

Reviewed by Joe Atkins

To get an idea of what a non-flarf, non-conceptual version of appropriation looks like, one need go no further than Samuel Amadon’s Like A Sea. The collection has a wide range of samplings sprinkled across the lines, and, since we’re such big fans of the list, here they are in all their illumination: J.D. Salinger, Pound, Walter Benjamin, Jane Kenyon, Robert Lowell, Eugenio Montale, Joris-Karl Huysmans, EA Robinson, Primo Levi, Beckett, Jackson Mac Low’s diastic reading process, Eugene O’Neil, Berryman, an appropriation of Olson appropriating Norbert Wiener, and last but not least Wikipedia. More than just a recounting of the notes, the above list provides the what of the book, it’s primary apparatus.

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Travis Cebula's Under the Sky They Lit Cities reviewed by Nancy Stohlman

Travis Cebula
Under the Sky They Lit Cities
BlazeVOX Books, 2010
ISBN: 9781609640255
Paperback, 93 pages

Reviewed by Nancy Stohlman

In his debut full-length collection of poetry, Under the Sky They Lit Cities, Travis Cebula advises: “Everyone in the city should ride the bus at least once/viscosity of a community is best measured by that stick”. From the first poem in this collection to the last, you understand that the narrator’s relationship with “city” is not one of aloof pontifications, or distant idealisms/condemnations. No, traveling through the pages of this slim volume is akin to traversing a city on foot, an anthem both to decay and the resilient life that rises among debris.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Renee Gladman's Event Factory reviewed by Paula Koneazny

Renee Gladman
Event Factory
Dorothy, a publishing project, 2010
ISBN 978-0-9844693-0-7
Paperback, 136pp., $16

Reviewed by Paula Koneazny

An unnamed protagonist arrives in a fictional city-state called Ravicka where she meets people, has adventures, and then departs without, seemingly, really having been anywhere or accomplished anything. The opening epigraph from Samuel Beckett serves well as a compass : "something has to happen, to my body . . . which never . . . wished for anything, in its tarnished universe, except for the mirrors to shatter . . . the magnifying, the minifying, and to vanish in the havoc of its images." Magnifying and minifying aptly describe the challenges encountered by both narrator and reader. A visit to Ravicka becomes a tour of a land of smoke and mirrors, a Through the Looking Glass experience in which the story is as much a shape-shifter as is the sexual self. Its hard-to-pin-down quality doesn't, however, make Renee Gladman's short novel Event Factory a flawed narrative.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cara Benson's (made) reviewed by Julie Joosten

Cara Benson
ISBN 9781897388563
72 pp., 5.5" x 8.5", pbk.
BookThug, 2010

Reviewed by Julie Joosten

Cara Benson’s first full-length book, (made), is an active work of nouns.  This collection of prose poems explores a mind at work and the way that mind opens out (into) the world.  Benson’s poems deliberately inhabit a made world—a world of days, bayonets, apples, banks, cities, alphabets, roads, holidays, cars, and deserts, of glinting, surviving, shedding, holding, talking, approaching, and rushing.  And they travel through that world as local inhabitants and as curious tourists engaged in its constructed contours.  Exploring the possibilities of a book of definition, desire, and horizon, the poems’ titles appear below the poems in large, bold font.  It is as if, moving through a poem, the reader experiences the process of arriving at a name:  the title is both the poem’s destination and its production.  But the titles also raise the question of perspective.  Encountered horizontally, as well as vertically, the title appears in the foreground of the field of the page, and the poem unfolds in the cultivated distance behind it.  Creating an archive of space, (made) insists on a multi-dimensionality that extends into the field of the reader’s body; Benson writes, “If this is in your hands, it is only here because you hold it” (55).  The deictic “this” resonates as book, poem, word, and the reader’s body bears out the conditional, holding these made artifacts in her hands and mind, collaborating in a production that requires her participation for making’s resonance.

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