Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stephanie Anderson, Lands of Yield


In the dream, I talk them out of sacrifice. In the dream, exterminate and flood. The suits got on the wrong train. No contractions.

Side zip seems so practical. She’s all worked up. Think before search. At the Kewpie Hotel, the bike lot is full. Did I miss the stop?

The bulbul is shrieking love, enough smart line. I get Bar Ber now. A yoga truck as we walk to the aesthetic farmer park.

Our first close bamboo grove, maidenhair and apricot. Stand inside the yellow line to ride the robin. The frog won’t eat the fish.

She goes to the train university, capital king line. The turnstile got tired. Nine percent was you. Kit Kat quest bust. (“THE DITTIES”)

Until I went through American poet, editor and publisher (currently living and teaching in Beijing) Stephanie Anderson’s If You Love Error So Love Zero (New Orleans LA: Trembling Pillow, 2018) a while back [see my review of such here], I had no idea that she’d had another poetry title out, only a year prior: Lands of Yield (Horse Less Press, 2018). She is also the author, by the by, of In the Key of Those Who Can No Longer Organize Their Environments (Horse Less Press, 2013), as well as a small handful of chapbooks, so I feel as though I’m just behind on everything about her work. Subtitled “A Poemlogue,” Lands of Yield is constructed in the tradition of the poetic diary or “daybook,” similar to New York poet Stacy Szymaszek’s Journal of Ugly Sites & Other Journals (Albany NY: Fence Books, 2016) [see my review of such here], the ongoing work of Alabama poet Jessica Smith [see my review of her latest here], Robert Creeley’s infamous A day book (1972), or even the life-work of the late Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert. Akin to Gilbert’s works, Anderson’s book-length poem is continuous, albeit sectioned, and responds to the immediate of her day-to-day, but more abstract than Gilbert might have written: “I wake still aching but / clearer from dreams of cats / & time travel & codes / he sees an owl in bamboo / goes out to buy provisions & / comes back with bracelets wall hanging / scarves bought from Mih & Jin / my necklace purple rose” (“05.07.14,” “THE SINGING GERUNDS”). Lands of Yield is set in six sections—“TOKYO STORY,” “THE DITTIES,” “THE SINGING GERUNDS,” “MORE DITTIES,” “BINGE-READING MYSTERIES IN BED” and “MORE DITTIES MORE”—with the individual poems including date-as-titles-only, as well as set as a continuous roll of poems, beginning with “1.26.14” at the opening, and ending with “09.01.14.” Structurally, the poems in her first section appear in accumulated couplets, while the second section, which begins on the day immediately following the end of the prior section, is set in longer stanzas of short lines:


first sights overload, beeps
like bats using echo-
location a high chair
on a motorbike including
baby incense burning
at the tree base all are staring
Ave Maria in neon
what do the license plates say
from the pink church the men chanting
plays the lily pads like
trampolines in the park
thank you is like with one
chopping a big bag of onions
we last maybe an hour out
at the opium re-
finery, team building
information on demand a
mosquito coil at our feet
this plate like the one at
home after the lunar eclipse
professional smile
kids with bright lit bubbles
one Vinasun tows another
the night market full of headlights

Anderson’s “poemlogue” exists exactly as it describes, poem-ing her way through a travel that doesn’t exist as straight travelogue; a journal that doesn’t exist as a straight journal. For Anderson, the poem is the thing, allowing the lyric to propel the movement around and through information gathered, utilized and processed. “B writes to talk / about hours. It’s / sixty-nine years / since the bomb. F / to Z I repeat.” (“08.07.14,” “MORE DITTIES MORE”).

This is a hefty and impressive volume, and one that exists as a worthy travel non-travel exploration of self and of skin and of the intimately immediate, whether home or abroad. Still: I’m curious about the structural shifts, as well as those of the sections; do the different sections suggest a shift in geography, or of thinking? What do the differences hold between sections? Are the differences less overt, and one of thinking or approach, which allow for the shift, also, in structure? I am curious about these differences, and yet, am satisfied with the answer not being obvious; or perhaps I am simply thick-headed, and missing something right in front of me.

Tokyo is our sleep trembles
They heckled her until she cried
Tokyo is this form is an avoidance
The cause of the delay is confirmation
Tokyo is the glasses keep falling (“06.20.14,” “BINGE-READING MYSTERIES IN BED”)

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