Monday, June 29, 2009

Sin is to Celebration, Amanda Ackerman and Harold Abramowitz


in the arm pulsate the heart forming
a triangle against his palm; blue,
and a paneless window vacant
waiting for a seagull above his body

Finally out as a full-sized chapbook is the poetry collaboration Sin is to Celebration (arrow as aarow #8, House Press, 2009) by Amanda Ackerman and Harold Abramowitz, part of which I first saw in the House Press anthology string of small machines (2007). What makes a good collaboration? What makes one good text come through out of another? Cited as a project of erasure of A.E.T.’s Sinestro and Celebration (1956), as Ackerman writes in her brief introduction:

Erasure is not a wrestling match. Nor is it a fight over the most green and promising – or abandoned – turf. And although a lead pencil is a wheelbarrow, and is circular and diamond-cut, an eraser is not a knife, surgical implement, shovel, or up-rooter of any kind. Here, no bodies are being cut or raked apart, up, or into, and no hand is being cupped over the vessel of anybody’s mouth. So is the state of erasure idealized. And so is the idealized state of erasure. An ideal itself being, of course, that which is made by a broad heart: wholly meant, imperfect, obtainable and breathable. Which is to say, erasure idealized, and idealized erasure, is the location where destruction is creation, but rightly timed, with accurate allowances made for rest and regeneration.
For their collaboration, produced as part of a series published by House Press, I like the way the poems open up across the range and the field, moving further and further out, yet keeping an anchor, a thread working through the poems that somehow hold the collection together as a single unit; contained through the flutter of further.


the specific
is a railroad train
on three legs carrying
at tremendous speed

somebody keeps shifting
the train
in circles
a blind gopher
a carrot
a turnip patch
the specific

I like the ease through which the poems move, but would have preferred more of a mix, instead of working, it seemed, poems from the same texts grouped, to make the book as a whole stronger, and more of a weave, as opposed to the near-sectioned. Repeatedly working over the same text and the same ground until it can’t help but be made, remade and reformed, new and originally theirs, the echoes only come through sitting further apart.


the specific
is a train
hopping along
on three legs
business men
at tremendous speed
somebody keeps shifting
the rails
while the train
criss crosses itself
in circles
like a blind
in a turnip patch
the specific
business men.

But this might be but a minor quibble. This is a strong collection, and much of the writing is impossible to distinguish between authors, although each make a strong case here and there for who it might be. But a good collaboration, still, refuses the individual, writing instead the imaginary third that exists between two, and this one, certainly, achieves. But the collection makes me wonder, who are these two authors, and why don’t they have any biographical information included? Have either of them ever published anything else, or do they only publish together?

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