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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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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Michael Gizzi's New Depths of Deadpan reviewed by Patrick Dunagan

Michael Gizzi
New Depths of Deadpan

ISBN13: 978-1-886224-96-4
Poetry, 72 pp., offset, smyth-sewn pbk.
Burning Deck, 2009

Reviewed by Patrick Dunagan

Michael Gizzi’s poems play it deadpan exceptionally well. Cast throughout the poems as though each page were a stage, words are his characters, shrugging off assumptions casually laid upon them and bubbling with an ever present humor that at times may be just slightly muffled.


Another sleepless night with the top down.

He has a headache that could write its own biography. How long
can one inhabit a dumb-waiter? His mother Pearl plumps his

Eyes lie through their teeth. Is it important to be unfortunate?

Is shucks not enough? Perhaps he could import a diver to yank
him out of bed?

Another clammy night.
Gizzi takes Leibniz’s monad viewing room out for a stroll and runs with it. “Witness the window grappling with the body.” (NIGHT-BLOOMING GRAMOPHONE) New intentions get written out via substitutions of the unfamiliar alongside the familiar, “Aliens write in puns we know are curly fries. Drive-up windows make this clear.” (THE DEEP) Every day reality gets a re-set as common experiences get blown to alternate extremes entertaining with surprising delight that refreshes without taxing one’s patience.

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Macgregor Card's Duties of an English Foreign Secretary reviewed by Robert Mueller

Macgregor Card
Duties of an English Foreign Secretary

ISBN 978-1-934200-29-2
6" x 8", 112 pp.
Fence Books, 2009

Reviewed by Robert Mueller

What’s a body to do today with all this tiresome ironic chic? Look for a poet, like Macgregor Card, of wit and daring, true aplomb. Look, for example, at “Office of the Interior” from Duties of an English Foreign Secretary, winner of the 2009 Fence Modern Poets Series. Here the poet slams in enough mystery to give the dominant theme all the old leverage it needs to send us somewhere:
I hope the streetlamp will
show up tonight
in some disinterested way
once the tilted park has made it
out of view by law
Do you anticipate that it will rain?
Next volunteer
Just nod if you’re
anticipating rain

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Brenda Iijima's If Not Metamorphic reviewed by Patrick Dunagan

Brenda Iijima
If Not Metamorphic
ISBN-13 978-1-934103-10-4
6" x 8", 128 pages, pbk.
Ahsahta Press, 2010

Reviewed by Patrick Dunagan

What’s both difficult and improbable to achieve with poetry these days is any hint of expression towards self-knowledge that doesn’t come across perceived as more or less a sham. Contemporary poetry shelves are densely populated by too much easily-packaged-for-reader-consumption-introspective-gleaning trite. Brenda Iijima’s writing on the other hand is a direct confrontation which playfully and directly engages questions of knowledge of self: what are the connections between perceptions and how they pass through consciousness via the body. This is exploratory writing that offers its rewards as they are come upon, self-discoveries which hold us, revealing us to our selves, active in every sense of the word. Neither self-serving nor bemoaning of uncertainty, Iijima stakes out her position as poet-explorer/inciter facing off against the challenges of a world in constant dynamic shift and does so with courage that refuses back away. Her interest in delving into just what is possible displays a vulnerability that engages by way of its immediacy.

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