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Monday, May 24, 2010

Gizelle Gajelonia's Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus Reviewed by Janna Plant

Gizelle Gajelonia
Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus
Tinfish Press, 2010
RRP $12.

Reviewed by Janna Plant

“The Dumb-Tourist Antidote”

I lived on O`ahu from 1996 through August of 2009. During that time, I spent many hours on the 52 Wahiawa Circle Island bus that features prominently in Gizelle Gajelonia’s debut collection of poems, entitled Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus. I also worked with tourists, giving them my own version of a tour, the beach by horseback at the Turtle Bay Resort. Tourists are such parasites, and I never wanted to be one myself again. Bumper stickers saying things like, “If it’s Tourist Season, why can’t we shoot them?” and “Slow down. This ain’t the Mainland,” directed the residents’ communal bile at the entity of the tourist, a being that could not truly engage in a conversation. When tourists asked me, “Where do the natives live?” I answered by offering a list of books. I felt that, if I ever wanted to travel again (yes!), I needed some way to not feel like the dumb-tourist, vampiring away at a body that I did not truly respect. To O`ahu visitors, I suggested Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawai`ian Nation to 1887 by Jonathan Kamakawiwo`ole Osorio, anything by Haunani-Kay Trask, Hawai`i’s Story by Hawai`i’s Queen, and Living Pidgin: Contemplations on Pidgin Culture by Lee Tonuchi, among others. If I were still circling the loop trail, providing my memorized commentary, Gajelonia’s text would be included. If you want to experience some of the grit of O’ahu, not just the pre-packaged version that the Hawai`i Visitors and Convention Bureau would offer, read Gizelle Gajelonia’s book and ask questions. She infiltrates the dream and lets some exhaust in.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leslie Scalapino's Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows reviewed by Jason Calsyn

Leslie Scalapino
Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows
Starcherone Books 2010.
164 pages.
RRP $18.

Reviewed by Jason Calsyn

Alexia and Simultaneity:

Leslie Scalapino’s Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows is a brilliant, confusing, occasionally maddening, tour-de-force of a book. Written through the lens of “alexia”, a neurological disorder which causes patients to be unable to comprehend written language, Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows presents itself in a mutated, almost-indecipherable prose. The reader is presented with a state of approximated alexia, a text which intentionally eludes meaning and chronology. Words and sentences fracture mid-thought, causing the far-reaching narrative to spin off in unexpected directions. The “narrative” jumps from the chaos of the Iraq war to the mountains of Tibet, from the jungles of Africa to the flooded city of New Orleans, and from India to Afghanistan, seemingly at random. Yet Scalapino weaves a strong enough thread throughout that these sudden shifts of locale flow seamlessly into one another, and once the reader gives in to fractured nature of the text, a brightly-lit world of contradiction and painful beauty opens up.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Jill Magi’s Torchwood Reviewed by Robert Mueller

Jill Magi

RRP $15
Shearsman Books

Reviewed by Robert Mueller

"History and Grace and All Forms Needful"

Dialects, specialty literary languages, character typologies and the self-effacing poetry-form personality; rhetoricity for its own ironic consequence and the occasional languid lacquered effetism — they all serve one purpose, to hone the expectant transparency. Jill Magi’s strange verse-writing, becoming one moment crisp, another moment aleatory, amnesiac, deft or drippily-awkward,1 as it may and it will, seeks to unsplash this whitewash. By careful jutting it Xes-out or routs the traces of veneer rather than streaking the shadows; shows not edge but rather wholeness, depositing dappled dents and shallows rather than this other’s retread face. What does that mean to her readers whose fascination these scrubbings likely sustain? What does it avail, her pleasure in forms that are anything but shapeless, and that, if they do not pulsate wildly, still live in cross- and hatch-rhythms?

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