Saturday, December 12, 2020

Danielle Vogel, The Way A Line Hallucinates its Own Linearity


Dear Reader, this small sentence is the hallucinatory sill. I once turned out the lights and invited you to make love to me. Please, I said. And turned over onto my belly and waited. I moved slowly, undoing my legs. I imagined the springs and foam would sort themselves into shape, that you would feel the weight of me and appear. I let you hear me breathing. (“[ Displacements ]”)

New England “poet, lyric essayist, and installation artist” Danielle Vogel’s latest is The Way A Line Hallucinates its Own Linearity (Pasadena CA: Red Hen Press, 2020), a collection structured in a triptych of lyric accumulations—“[ Displacements ],” “[ Grieving Miniatures ]” and “[ A Residual Volume ]”—that combine to achieve a book-length lyric meditation exploring language and how and where it meets body, breath and action. “We breach the noun of a thing to verb it.” she writes, as part of the opening section. “It still needs our body.”

The author of Between Grammars (Noemi Press, 2015) and Edges & Fray (Wesleyan University Press, 2019) [see my review of such here], The Way A Line Hallucinates its Own Linearity is second in a proposed trilogy, itself built as a trio of structures: from a sequence of small accumulations, a series of examinations and a lyric essay. “Dear Reader,” she writes, in the opening section, “all pages architecture intimacy.” Vogel is attuned to the condensed and serial moment, and the notion of the miniature, especially one as part of a much larger structure. The language is liquid, dense and buoyant, composed of a lyric as sharp as it is stunning. This is a beautifully-written, intimate and serious work, one barely given proper due through my own small sentences. As she writes as part of the third section:


Small dislocations, memories, suck their way to the surface only to be buckled back to the other side of remembering. I am within a wall of dark water. Holding the ledge of a bright cloth, it is pulled from me.

Having been raised by water, the body sees with the voice. It is contained by nothing. Floating, buoyant. Mutable. How sound can temporarily clothe this body. How it raises a series of locations through relation, through echo and recognition. At the beginning, two children walked away from a bay, and while walking, they unnamed places. But it wasn’t two children, it was only one. Who became conjoined. A woman whose voice, in the shape of a body or book, stood beside her.



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