Monday, September 13, 2021

Ongoing notes: mid-September, 2021: Gala Uzryutova + Lindsey Webb,

So, right now I’m basically attempting to get another two dozen books reviewed before the semi-annual deluge of new titles begin to land. That sounds reasonable as a goal, doesn’t it? Gadzooks!

Cobourg ON: The first Proper Tales Press title in some months is All the names are occupied, but one is vacant (2021) by Ulyanovsk-based Russian poet, fiction writer, playwright, and sound and visual artist Gala Uzryutova, translated “from the Russian by Stuart Ross & the author.” These poems appear to be the first of Uzryutova’s poems translated into English (and she has translated some of Ross’ work into Russian, also), which make me immediately curious to know if they’re potentially working on something book-length.

all the snow I missed
for the five years
I didn’t visit my father’s village

fell today
and does not fit in the shovel

you gave me in grade three.
I crammed the snow

into the pockets of your coat,
shoved it through the windows of your old car,

and still the snow grows in the root cellar,
and we can’t even see the windows of the bathhouse,

and your boots, too, are full of snow.
it heaped over the fence and soon

will cover the bottom of the Volga.
a little more—and the snow will fill my throat

father, give me a bigger shovel

The poems in this collection are untitled, relatively short and self-contained, each beginning on a new page, and the surreal aspect of the work provides the possibility of both individual pieces and the grouping of a particular suite. Uzryutova employs a dark surrealism with an elegant, light touch, accumulating lines that stretch wide across the lyric. “the shore’s not as cold as the river,” she writes, “it’s cold as an empty house at the beginning of winter [.]” I am curiuos to see more of her work.

Chicago Il: Salt Lake City, Utah poet Lindsey Webb’s debut chapbook is HOUSE (Chicago Il: Ghost Proposal, 2020), an accumulation of twenty-six short prose poems, set as one per page. As the chapbook opens:

When I first considered my career in time, the house installed its kin. Busy setting up for the party, though I thought they weren’t organs. I thought I had a purse. In your photograph, a white door dries in the morning sun, though in my memory it was red. It bursts into hives when I talk about it, and telescopes my relation to the true.

Her writing wraps itself around both lyric and philosophy, attending space, motion and the body, as well as the body and the framing of her subject, the house. I’m enjoying the scope of this small project, one that, much like Uzryutova’s collection, allows for each poem to remain self-contained, but to simultaneously open up into the structure of a suite, writing her subject and idea as complete as possible. There are echoes of Sarah Manguso’s short story collection in her structure, but just as much of poet Sawako Nakayasu, who recently offered the writing prompt of taking an idea or subject, and simply writing every poem on and around that.

How does the house desire me? I sit in a soft chair among the group, and a dog bites its own ankle. I’ve been asked to ponder as a market ponders. When a child comes to the window to kiss it, It desires my time, I posit. The dog always dies, dies again, a satin duration. A scolding: Things do not appear from nowhere, though an aloe leaf suddenly colors my hand. This will impede my progress. My desire will color the next room.


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