Friday, April 17, 2020

Amanda Auerbach, what need have we for such as we


I do things to get to other things
without caring what they are
until the day suddenly

breaks off of me
or I break off
to do my own things

to go over hills
trace sounds faraway
until the day suddenly

requires other things
more of a stretch
to do what needs doing

to keep
under the roof that delays
until I get back

from the day
that breaks off of me
to go over hills

though now the day suddenly
breaks differently.
Each thing takes days.

I’m fascinated by the narrative threads of the poems that make up Iowa City poet Amanda Auerbach’s debut full-length collection, what need have we for such as we (C+R Press, 2019), watching how they occasionally dip and curl, turn back in on themselves as a way to propel forward. Auerbach’s lyric twists and twirls are composed through an array of lyric structures, from the more straightforward line-breaks to the prose poem, and multiple stops along the way in-between. “It is not the case that this language is doing anything in particular. / This is it.” she writes to open the prose poem “First Words,” a kind of ars poetica for the collection as a whole. Her poems manage to ride a fine line of the familiar and the unfamiliar, writing out the ordinary in completely unexpected ways, turns and directions, as the poem ends: “It is the language we use to think about how what / comes in and out of consciousness when we would rather not be / awake feels true in a way that’s a violation of what should be the / case if what we are trying to understand were made for that.”

One could say that Auerbach’s poems are of the world and responses to the world, but there’s more than that. Her perspective doesn’t simply replicate or describe the world or her responses, but manages to fracture and rebuild into shapes just beyond our current attentions. Through Amanda Auerback, there is something I can’t explain, as though her perspective is the glass that bends the light, and her poems are the resulting light that hits the page.

Loved Self

day seems gorgeous to me beyond what it is which I can tell because being out here makes me think of my own body and I feel gorgeous in the cold air just for having legs and hair in which to catch the sun and cold. I realize this again when I come in and see my caramel-colored sandals and perceiving them is looking down at my own feet which they make gorgeous or the other way around I cannot tell which is how it works so I will never know the value that anything has without me in it which could make me sad but how else so I may as well be in love with myself in a way that is not like looking in the mirror but instrumental like being married or believing in God. In love with myself through which the self acquires its.

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