Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marie Buck, Portrait of Doom


I crawled out of a spider hole into a fucked up kind of youth.

My parents were fucked up

and my school was kind of fucked up

and my left eye ticked and my ankle hurt.

I felt my soul withering into a tiny shrunken system

but I wore a pin that said fuck the system

and I drilled the bone out

till I deadlifted unimaginable weight.

I’ve been fascinated by the dark, lyric tautness of Marie Buck’s second poetry collection, Portrait of Doom (San Francisco, CA: Krupskaya, 2015), constructed as a book of short, fierce and fiery poems around, among other subjects, disappointment. Consider the end of the poem “LAY DOWN AMONG THE BODIES,” that writes: “This is the most moving thing / I’ve seen in a while: / this glimmer of hope / embodied in a thrashing stallion. // Err, fuck that, I feel all the chains upon me.” In her recent “12 or 20 questions” interview, she spoke on how hers is a poetry constructed via collage, something that comes out occasionally through the poems themselves (“in my own dark vision / alphabetizing in Word,” as she writes, in the poem “SCOPE OF EMOTIONS”).

Krupskaya put out my new book, Portrait of Doom, this past spring. The projects are pretty different. One key difference, I think, is that, while both projects are partially collaged, I’m not really interested in the Internet with this new one. With the first, I was interested in publicity and privacy, especially in relation to gender. I grabbed a lot of language from MySpace accounts; the Internet at that moment was a really good thing to use in thinking about the things I wanted to think about. Now, though, I feel pretty uninterested in the Internet and also like we’re in a very different cultural moment in the wake of Occupy and with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, Greek resistance to austerity, the general uptick in resistance across the globe.

So I guess I want/expect my work to reflect this larger cultural shift. I’m really interested in political affect, the transmission of political affect, and moments of collective hope and disappointment. I’m drawing on broader range of sources that I collage from (in addition to writing from scratch).

That said, all of my work seems to wind up circling around a few things: power, the grotesque, quotidian expressions of power relations, political and personal angst as one and the same, bodies, over the top self-reflexivity on the part of the speaker.

The construction of lyric collage allows Buck’s poems the possibility of being far more open than the limitations of the lyric “I,” stretching out into territory and contradictions and even a particular array of unexpected narrative directions. And yet, the collage of her poems manage to go far deeper than what the “I” would normally suggest, allowing her to thrust far and deep, cutting away all the bullshit, and striking straight at the heart of the matter. Her poems explore the failure of human possibility, including social, political and personal, and yet, contain a vigorous, vocal and insistent optimism, pushing a continual “fuck you” through the text, forcing its way up and out of some very pessimistic observations. We are not yet there, her poems insist, and we might never be, pushing her combination of resigned indignation and vigorous calls to action. These poems want you to try, and try ever harder. How dare you not.


And a businessman has lost it
Underneath the water

Like I lost him, like I fucking lost him
As he toppled from my fireman’s carry

Looking for the girl who’ll treat you right
The Dixie paper products

I have to be in one of these caverns
I have to be hiding

I tear up
As a businessman looks at my chamber pot

I seep into you
Up up and away in a doom balloon

I am thinking about getting paid
My jet lag, my critters, my girl

I am touching a businessman’s
Sweet and supple mouth

With my little razor
And my furtive taser

I put its money in its pocket
And I remember the great destroyer

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