Monday, February 01, 2010

Sawako Nakayasu, Texture Notes


The weak texture of the air changing as a train pulls away

from its station and a hollow develops, a delayed breeze

takes hold, and the uneven bonds of the neighborhood

shimmy into place.

A stronger texture of reason, or texture of the reason why

I didn’t get on that train, or texture of a frame-by-frame

rendering of the thought process leading to the decision to

not get on the train, coupled with a late, too late, arrival,

large bags in tow or some such excuse. What heaps up

against both sides of the closing train doors.

One of those rare poetry titles that fills me with envy is American poet Sawako Nakayasu’s newest collection, Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions, 2010), a day book, writing out a month of months, altering notions of linear time through months and years into a single setting, as the days run consecutive from the second to thirtieth, but bounce around 2004 and a large part of 2003, as “6.2.2003” is followed by “9.2.2003” is followed by “6.3.2003,” for example. Her fourth trade collection, after Hurry Home Honey (2009) [see my review of such here; see her "12 or 20 questions" here], Nakayasu’s day book explores the texture of the month over the space of a year or two; do her days really blend themselves together as well? “Whenever I meet new people I want to touch them first / and find out their texture.” she writes, in “9.19.2004,” and throughout these pieces, the texture is both seen and felt. Understood, even before consciously being aware of such.


What do you miss about America?

A woman, a very very fat woman, I trace her and to what

extent she gives, and what of her takes as I dive into her

rolls, loll around and find a press, a fold, fresh laundry out

of the dryer and keep tracing her, linger on the inside of

her elbow, inside of her armpit, fall into her heated neck

I keep tracing her with my finger her tracing her and she

bites me and I go back.

After reading various other poets’ versions of the “day book” (and writing about, as well as working my own), from Robert Creeley’s A Day Book to Gil McElroy’s “Some Julian Days” that runs throughout (so far) his three trade poetry collections, I’m fascinated by how Nakayasu varies the construction of (seemingly) arbitrary days, and just how the collection as a whole holds itself together, through the construction of not months or years but numerically consecutive days. Are connections, sometimes, only found and made by such a movement of order? And would the book really read any differently if they were to be reshuffled and put into proper (so-called) temporal order? Would it even matter, or would it simply be an alternate version of the same? Either way, this book is not only beautifully produced, but magnificent to pick up, whether reading straight through, or poking through at random. Nakayasu’s “texture” is deep and varied, and is capable of marking the reader up as easily as other sections might sooth, might smooth.

1 comment:

Jenn McKay said...

Thanks you for posting that. Beautiful.