Monday, January 17, 2011

Argos Books: Paige Ackerson-Kiely and bianca stone


Out of the glove box comes whatever snack a passenger can hand you when you’re driving. So many years spent distilling head-nods, the occasional small wave off a steering wheel, brushing against a stranger in the dairy aisle, her heat & yours. Sometimes, fleeting eye contact with a wild bird, or loving a workingman without interrupting him. It has been difficult. A jetty quelling breakers; punching someone in the face then blowing on your fist. It has been difficult. Your 3/4ths coverage, the remainder of me shrugging away. All the trinkets I gave to you hidden in your dark desk. When I come right up to the edge, like this second to last line, I always retreat. Though I love the way it feels like drowning, your mouth against my legs, moving up.

As anyone who reads this with any regularity might suspect, I’ve been a fan of Vermont poet Paige Ackerson-Kiely since the appearance of her first poetry collection, In No One’s Land (Boise ID: Ahsahta Press, 2007), a book I carried on and off through my travels pretty much since, wearing down my copy nearly to the point of requiring a replacement. Her chapbook, This Landscape (Argos Books, 2010), a collaboration with artist Adie Russell, is part of Argos Books’ “SIDE-BY-SIDE SERIES,” meant to “create a space where contemporary poetry and art can intersect, making a third, undefined category. In viewing the work and forming a personal understanding of the resonance between language and image, the reader joins in the spirit of collaboration that makes this endeavor possible.” The collaboration exists as four images by Russell, and four prose-poems by Ackerson-Kiely, prose so tight and sharp you could bounce a quarter of it. What I’ve always admired about her poetry has been the sharp emotions, the clipped phrases and the damned strong insistence, poems that demand the reader live inside them for a while. Her bio at the end of the small collection even announces a second trade collection forthcoming, sometime this year, Misery Trail.

What I like about bianca stone’s someone else’s wedding vows (Argos Books, 2010) are the sharp turns, lines with flow made with such ease as to appear possible. Her poems have a subtle cadence that pushes, pounds, deep, and manage to repeatedly make their way into flesh. Who is this Bianca Stone? Part of the appeal of this small collection is its range, from tightly-packed pieces to a more open cadence of couplets and breath-space. Add to the mix that both small chapbooks are hand sewn with lovely letterpress covers produced at the Ugly Ducking Presse workshop in Brooklyn, New York. How can you ever resist?
Animatronic Singing Fish

The moon puts powder on its pocked face
and orbits the room.

And I think the moon says yes.

Yes, drive unto the brink
and have a beer.

But I can’t be sure.

The piano concerto from the little record player
on the floor

makes me feel
as if I am back listening

to the pathological beaver
gods slapping in the brown torrent of the creek.

And I am somewhat convinced. Though
the concerto says nothing,

and has no meaning.

When we talk of love
we think we are being talked into something.

We walk toward
a rubber fish with interest,

with envy, finding it takes in more
amphibian dust

we find we cannot bring ourselves
to be intimate with it,

when it bellows. Take me to the river.
Knock me down.

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