Saturday, January 25, 2020

Ongoing notes: late January, 2020: Machado, Tyc

Charlottesville VA: Aditi Machado’s latest is the chapbook-length poem Rhapsody (2020), beautifully produced by hand by Brian Teare’s Albion Books, as the second title in series seven. Currently the Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Washington University in Saint Louis, Machado [see her ’12 or 20 questions’ interview here] is the author of the poetry collections Some Beheadings (Nightboat Books, 2017) [see my review of such here] and the forthcoming Emporium (Nightboat Books, 2020), as well as a translation from the French of Farid Tali’s novella Prosopopoeia (Action Books, 2016).

Let us exercise our vocal cords.
Let us draw them out

Let us say there is always a longer or shorter
tress, always congruities, blissful, bitter
rhythms, sprung onions splitting, violins in
harmony that is harmonic, chaos that is chaotic,
in sense that is sensible, in here it inheres, out there
rapid rabbits. Let us labor under these notions
as under the cantus planus factory whine.

Let us stumble around, humming, stumbling, humming.

Then something in the shape of leaves,
something in the touching of ‘red.’

The poem Rhapsody explores a wonderfully playful, thoughtful and sing-song meditation on flora, fauna, myths and ordinary speech through the lyric, and the lyric fragment, in a way she describes certain poems from her debut collection in “A conversation between  poet-grammarians” with Serena Chopra published at Jacket2: “the subject feeling itself out in language.” What I have been enjoying about this small poem, this small collection, is exactly that: how she slowly draws out her thoughts, and her sentences, one thought immediately following another. At times, she moves in different directions, but ever forward, as she writes: “Some systems proffer / all vowels alliterate and in all / prose a prosody.” The effect is stunning. Machado’s canvas is large, and complex, and I could easily see this as part of a larger book-length structure, whether set within the context of other poems, or, itself, as a book-length “Rhapsody.”

Brooklyn NY: Lately I’ve been going through two different titles by Brooklyn, New York poet and artist Cat Tyc, her CONSUMES ME (Brooklyn NY: Belladonna*, 2017), produced as #222 in the Belladonna* Chaplet Series, and I Am Because My Little Dog Knows Me (b l u s h, November 2019). I’m fascinated by Tyc’s sweeps of lyric prose, existing somewhere in an odd space between fiction and poetry, documentary and memoir. Unlike Machado, Tyc’s narrative sweeps aren’t propelled via the intricately-linked fragment but an extended rush of accumulated sentences.

That word, imagination, always connects me to the naïve, so I think this is why my first draft of an animal came out kind of cartoonish. Like a street artist drawing at a tourist attraction.

I imagined a cat of human size wearing a button down shirt, gingham, and khaki pants. A belt and the shirt tucked in like a very old man.

So, that is exactly who I meet when I finish climbing down the hole but we both know that it is not right. He is not the animal I am looking for.

He tells me, “I am only a figment of your imagination.” Then looks down at himself, shrugs and said, “Not bad.”

Then he led me down a hallway where behind every corner was a dog.

Every dog I ever cared for when I used to work as a dog walker.

And then there is the door at the end of the corridor and I know before I open it that I will see my dog, Thurston.

But this feels too obvious. (I Am Because My Little Dog Knows Me)

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