Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ongoing notes: the dusie kollectiv,

Here are some brief reviews of more of recent chapbooks received as part of the “dusie 5 kollectiv” [see my first two notes on such here and here].

Chicago IL: For the few years I've been aware of his work, I've been taken by some of the trade poetry collections of Chicago poet and publisher William Allegrezza, who, according to the back of his dusie offering, Marquee (2011), “has books forthcoming with Salt Publishing, The University of New Orleans Press, and Furniture Press.” Envy, those. Allegrezza's poems, here, are predominantly constructed of statements, sentences and queries that flow across a few different structures, from the halting-straight to scattered across the page. For those who don't know about his work, Allegrezza is one of the more interesting and persistent poets over the past decade in Chicago. In this collection of short poems, what, exactly, does the marquee tell?

the red notebook

if you start to believe this—
what this? the smell of stale
air, the burning eyes?—,
you should, perhaps,
if you did, begin to move
through office alleys,
the birds silent—the starlings
having shaken space away—
you should see the signs
cold with wind and
rhapsodize about leaves
turning in violent
circuitry spreading on our
young memories and
think about the same bridges,
stretches, and pine trees
you knew when young.

Brooklyn NY: Who is this Krystal Languell, author of many lost cause creatures could form a very sad list (2011)[see Allegrezza's review of same here]? According to the bio at the back of her small chapbook, she is “the founding editor of Bone Bouquet and a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative.” How can I still be amazed that there are so many interesting poets I haven’t previously heard about? It even says she is “poetry editor for Noemi Press,” another discovery.

His non-anatomical heart? Oh I don’t give a shit.
Wants to get through it unscathed. Friend of poetry. Ten-plus.
A straight white man can’t get a dollar out of me—you say
you don’t like pain? The trouble with your defense
is I’m working class, too. Get in line and take a number.

Many of the sentences that make up her many lost cause creatures could form a very sad list collide, crash headlong into each other, creating the most jarring and magnificent breaks. Languell’s short sequence of compact stanzas collage and even confuse their way into impact, discovering and creating meanings through the combinations.

A slow talker says, “Where are the bodegas? In Brooklyn
you can go to a bodega and get a Snapple.” Indisputable
& at the flea market you can buy milkman receipts from 1907
& personal correspondence. The din in my museum
overpowers what’s outside the window—it’s old noise, vintage.

I’m curious as to where she might have picked up or picked out some of these phrases; is this a collage of her own words with others slipped in? It’s as though Languell has picked from the language and the fragments of stories surrounding her immediate world, writing a poem out of the simple collapsing of her entire world into short, sharp sentences. Is this a collection of stories, a poem, or a very sad list? I think it’s all of that, and perhaps, none of the above, at once. Either way, I wonder, is this part of something larger she is collecting?

when you call on the poor to make donations
when you feel like a shelter dog
when I hear the word culture I reach for my checkbook
when I get my period on the way
to ship a dead woman’s things home

Lafayette CO/LO: Part of the entertainment of receiving so many chapbooks from writers around the world has not only been for the variety of writing, but the variety of production and format. From poets j/j hastain and Marthe Reed come the collaborative post-cards :: Lafayette á Lafayette (Nous-zōt Press, 2011), a collection of pieces by two poets responding to each other. As Reed writes in her “Post-face” at the end of her section:

Out of the blue, the best of blue skies, last February, I received an email from j/j hastain responding to my first little book, tender box, a wunderkammer. A kind of grace, and the opening of dear friendship. The discovery that we both live in Lafayette – one in Colorado and one in Louisiana – became a structure – an imperative? – for writing poem-cards to one another, inspired also by j/j’s unbound chapbook of poem-cards for Dusie 4. envisioning our collaboration as an extension of the Dusie community, each month we sent one another a hand-made card, occasions for dialog – a process of learning one another’s voice(s), impulses, languages. j/j’s work speaks to me of the body and embodiment, of the passage between correspondence, a friendship formed along the pulses of poetry and communion.

These are poems that respond to and play off of each other, each poet reflecting back what it is that they see, and perhaps adding to it.

all none every

absolutely disposable

when s/he hits the page it will
burn away

the body exceeds its content (Marthe Reed)

There is something wonderful about the play between the two of these, barely opened up, it might appear, through nearly a dozen poems each. hastain’s initial responses to Reed react far more abstractly, taking her references and pulling them apart, writing a clarity of purpose:
humans are congealed desire in
desperate pursuit of form
And I am hoping, might this be some kind of ongoing collaboration, akin to, perhaps, the ongoing collaboration between Canadian poet Douglas Barbour and American poet Sheila E. Murphy, the first part of such appearing as Continuations (Edmonton AB: University of Alberta Press, 2006)? If Barbour and Murphy are any example, it is possible to bridge long distances through the poem. As hastain’s own “Post-face” reads:

From inhabiting the lonely site of an only internal sky—from what was such immense effort to thread the days, then—came this presence. And from it: how make speak in world compel such speechless? I knew by the warmth of Marthe’s responses to my gestures toward her and her work, that there could be fluency—but how to record the progresses collaboratively? What tongue of connectivity? How would I mark the sweet undulations of what (for me) had once been either a private or public (performance-based) body of grief? I am saying how make shared by two? I am saying how make collaboratively heal-ful bridge? I think that I have been part of a miracle here with Marthe. A progressive, porous progression. A possibility made more possible through extension wherein the refracted views I share, are received and reflected back. This process increasing lubrications between gesture in planarity and the heart-felt, galactic compulsions of memoir/memory.


Krystal Languell said...

Thanks for your kind comments!


Nous-zot Press said...

Thanks, Rob, for these lovely engagements and responses.