Sunday, September 04, 2011

Juliana Spahr, Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You

There are these things that are
important to me and they speak of
how all is not right with the world
yet still all is right.

At the hardcore show the singer
was screaming fuck-you-aloha-I-
you. (“things”)
I've been enjoying the echoes and repetitions of Juliana Spahr's Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), something very evident in her subsequent collections, including This Connection of Everyone With Lungs (University of California Press, 2005).  

Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You is constructed out of seven long poems, seven poem-thoughts, poem-breaths, writing (as Lyn Hejinian describes on the cover copy) “a daringly aggressive ambivalence, one that is obvious in the goodbye-hello message of the book's title but becomes far more complicated as the poems' sequences query feature after feature of the author's cultural locale.”

While the parking lot is unused,

while the stream is rich and full,

the parking lot represents the
general feeling of the space.

There is the parking lot of
limited space

the parking lot of owned by
certain of we

the parking lot of no possibility of

the parking lot of being unable to

the parking lot of growing from
the stream of gathering's freshness
of water

the parking lot beneath the
highway beside the stream of
The third section, for example, “gathering: palolo stream,” collects, corrals and opens the contradictions of ownership, and the collision of public vs. private. The poem, referencing a small story of a stream, holds the tension of the collection as a whole, citing the tensions between native and non-native cultures in her then-Hawai'i. I am taken by the breath of her poems, the straight sentences repeated, broken apart, reworded, placed in straight lines that aren't so straight, and seem less so upon closer inspection.
In culture we have muscles and
we use these muscles to let us
move towards and on top and out
of each other.

We build ourselves into a

We tremble as we do this.

Even after we have built, we
tremble. (“a younger man, / an older man, / and a woman”)
The more I read through Spahr's work [see her 12 or 20 questions interview here], the more interested I am in reading further, and deeper, through, and her collections include Nuclear (Leave Books, 1994), Response (Sun & Moon Press, 1996), Spiderwasp or Literary Criticism (Explosive Books, 1998), Things of Each Possible Relation Hashing Against One Another (Palm Press, 2003), This Connection of Everyone With Lungs (University of California Press, 2005) [see my review of such here], The Transformation (Atelos Press, 2007) and a new title I haven't yet seen, Well Then There Now (Black Sparrow Press, 2011), with her first two available online as free pdf downloads.

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