Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Evelyn Reilly, Echolocation


Self’s anon-
ymous un-

ly armor-
less mis-

into an ocean
of mistake

bringing flood
of word
world love

the mistress-
ly mastering

of uncontrol
as when
an ice shelf

into the sea

The latest from New York poet Evelyn Reilly is Echolocation (New York NY: Roof Books, 2018), a collection built on an incredibly large canvas, with lines stretched taut as the skin of a drum. Marking and remarking her pages with extended poems and visual pieces and lyric stretches composed out of the tiniest fragments, there are echoes of bpNichol and Susan Howe in how Reilly has constructed her book-length epic, allowing fragments to accumulate underneath an umbrella of coherence into a book-length unit. The pieces in Reilly’s Echolocation push at the boundaries of how paragraphs, stanzas, sentences and words themselves are constructed, and entirely pulled apart, all while allowing for meaning, and a narrative logic and through-line. As she writes in the poem “Self as Super-Compatible with the Forces of Nature”:

under the weight

of its straight cis trans queer

aging body

marked by so many
healed-over incidents

and aching reciprocity linkages

preparing to yield

its Selfish substance

to an amorous community

of worms and insects

How is it I’ve never heard of this poet before? Reilly’s composition of the “Self” is detailed and immense, exploring the wide-ranging everything through speech, speaking and research, working to orient herself (and her “Self”) through incredibly smart poems, carefully woven together, and sent out into the Anthropocene and across the sea. As she writes in the poem “Song Of”: “And why should our bodies end at our skin?”

1 comment:

James Sherry said...

Roof Books has published two prior books of Evelyn Reilly "Styrofoam" and "Apocalyso". "Echolocation" is the third of Reilly's books on environmental concerns.