Between the mail strike, my massive move, and the slow trickle of whatever chapbooks remain of the ninety-some to eventually appear, it has been a while since I've gone through another small stack of dusie chapbooks.
Here are three of the most recent to appear, in one of my various mailboxes over the past few weeks.
Portland, OR: Jared Hayes' into the furrows (2011) describes itself as “an experimental collage,” merging texts by Paul Celan and Hélène Cixous, and “structures: by Jacques Lacan, John Cage, Alice Notley and Louis Zukofsky.
(I will begin with) itsyoungest leaf (writing changes languages)from its crumb (you willhave recognized it) probe for(the line that makes themvibrate) into the furrows (perhapsyou were going) the roofover us (I write) there(in addition to this) wrote(how could I not be)
According to a bio online, Hayes previously particiated in dusie with a “chapbook homage to Ted Berrigan,” his RecollecTed (2006), suggestion an ongoing relationship with recombinating texts by established wrters, and I would be interested in seeing, perhaps, Hayes' work in a larger context, whether a larger project or some kind of poetic statement by the author. The structure is interesting, a variation of which has also been worked by a number of other writers including Margaret Christakos, Gregory Betts and Pearl Pirie, but I would like to see something more.
(there to the) astralflute from(otherwise) fire the deep (beneaththis book had lived) remembrancetoo (I could imagine) blueblack memory (I could imagine)past start throw-dives (the commonplace)a delusion (I escape myselfdeath) an unnamed up which(back to life) dredge upafter (I am telling you)
Palo Alto, CA: Between Palo Alto, California and Bloomington, Indiana come Bronwen Tate and Ming Holden's the loss letters (2011), a call-and-response collaboration, responding to forms, other writers, each other and their daily situations. As the colophon writes, “These poems were written and emailed (mostly in Palo Alto, California and Bloomington, Indiana) on the dates that accompany them in compliance (mostly) with the following guidelines: Follow the order of forms. Reply within 48 hours. No non-poem communication. The poem is the message.”
Pantoum of Waiting for a Heartbeat [BT. 11.04.10]
There's nothing I can doand I am doing it.I eat brown rice,pretend to sip my wine.
And I am doing it,trying not to count days.Pretend to sip my wine,walk three miles each morning.
Trying not to count days,I still think five weeks tomorrow.Walk three miles each morning,write the dissertation.
I still think five weeks tomorrow.I eat brown rice,write the dissertation.There's nothing I can do.
There is some magnificent interplay between the poems, each piece taking a lead from the one before, two poets engaged in a real conversation that allows space for sestinas, pantoums, ghazals, sonnets and villanelles, and Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein, Orlando and Buddha. Not every piece might entirely work, but the highlights make the entire journey worthwhile, and this small publication a compelling sequence of correspondence between two poets.
I am always wary of presuming overtly what is merely suggested, as far as the lives of the authors are concerned. There is a loss here, losses writ about, but unclear where the poems begin and the biographies end, especially when Tate's biography ends with the line, “If you miscarry or have miscarried and walk to talk to someone, you can email her at email@example.com.”
Sonnet for You [MH. 1.3.11]
I wonder who it is that listens inWhen skies inside our skulls fill up with rain.Thudding to the ground, a severed fin,A rosebud falls before it blooms again.Who is it that would give us wings, then clip them?By accident or malice, it still burns.Torn out of us by someone who would rip them,Our dreams take form then drop like stones by turns.Sister, you need not have strength, faith, or hope.To breathe is all I ask of you tonight.You can lie still while thoughts of velvet ropeBinds you to the bed of nothing right.But as you have for me, know that I'm listening.That's the orb remaining, certain, glistening.
Berkeley CA: There is something magnificent about the play in Catherine Meng's long poem, I'M NOT WRITING PURE WAR THIS IS A GROCERY LIST (2011), writing across the page in a way that is difficult to replicate in such a post, writing: “the company name / a shore / a shoe a shoehorn / an octopus / exterior filtered through our liver / our lungs / our hung dog faces / our rag rugs / our place mats / our places.”
There are too few poets who really understand how to use space across the page, or how to work a political poem without ranting or becoming pedantic, but Meng manages to be compelling on both fronts, wrapping her poem across the full page in a way that probably sounds magnificent at a reading, as she writes: “he put the whole world / in his mouth / not long after / poetry left the page / where it was to begin / not either/or / but and/or / I put the whole world / in my mouth & / coughitbackup.”