Thursday, March 12, 2020

kathryn l. pringle, Obscenity for the Advancement of Poetry

during this time, i have learned the ceiling is discolored

birds are raucous morning creatures

the neighbors like to yell FUCK more than they actually fuck

somewhere nearby there is a screeching monkey

out the window is a gray Oakland

the city of my displacement

the daily centering of me in such geography

it has caused age to surface on my skin

and hair

it is beautiful


or maybe i have resigned myself

given notice to who i was


it reads (“civil engineering part II”)

I’m a bit behind on this, but Durham, North Carolina poet kathryn l. pringle’s fourth full-length collection—after RIGHT NEW BIOLOGY (Factory School, 2009), fault tree (Omnidawn, 2012) and TEMPER & FELICITY ARE LOVERS (Lost Roads Press, 2014)—is Obscenity for the Advancement of Poetry (Oakland CA: Omnidawn, 2017), a collection I clearly should have paid attention to far earlier. In Obscenity for the Advancement of Poetry, pringle explores the act and art of poetry combined with the act and art of being, blending civil and cultural concerns with elements of craft, of writing out the so-called obscene elements of the body to articulate human placement, and such fragile truth and beauty. “when you says i / i means me,” she writes, to open the poem “civil engineering part I,” “and the place that holds / that is being held / with / me, that is / being // held with / not by [.]” In an interview included as part of the press release, conducted by Omnidawn editor/publisher Rusty Morrison, pringle responds:

Stacy [Doris] is the one who instigated this book… she asked me to “write the obscene.” I was immediately put off by the idea. I had lofty ideas and wanted to be considered a “serious poet” and I didn’t think writing the obscene really fit into that plan. But I had to write something because she was my professor and I had to turn something in—so that’s where the “obscenity for the advancement of poetry” series came from. I believe the first poems in that series were written in 2005, but they are so current—it’s creepy. Then again, what’s political is often obscene so I shouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, 8 years later I came across them again and saw a way to finally do what Stacy had asked. I started with my body—my intestines and bowels and everything that makes me grossly human. Then I added what was expected of me—by others and myself—and it took off from there.

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