Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Katherine Factor, a sybil society


Antediluvian Floozy

Man has it been
a long long time
since we pinched

out the bar Atlantis
into a serious party region

of wicked street buskers
where amused fans first rose

from the barbershop state
dove into cheese regencies

& took a ton of lawn chairs
until our nipple civilization

became a course of ages
overflowing shores

thus at the dart board
a true answer died

leaving in the world
a mess of gardens

now aligning us
my previous cornichons.

I found myself intrigued by the lyric complexities of Iowa poet Katherine Factor’s full-length poetry debut, a sybil society (Reno/Las Vegas NV: University of Nevada Press, 2022), winner of the 2020 Test Site Poetry Prize. “I ahhhh maze / you    but if / left pregnant // I create / as all get out,” she writes, as part of “An Ariadne.” There is a swagger to her language, and a gymnastic element. “a language,” as she offers in “The Feisty Disc Discovery,” “open now for hot / deciphers until // ancient puncture [.]” Moving through antiquity, Factor engages with the mystical, writing a range that includes the oracle to the doula. She writes of characters that hold old knowledge, and what may have been long and completely lost. “Bow to appalling instrument,” she writes, as part of “Tripod Lockdown,” “or a plectrum / that makes speech // & applaud earth with gawkers / so I may be upright / on the hyped-up tripod // that emanates herb fumes / the pneuma tithing either / as gas or water.” Through references to Atlantis, Orpheus, the library at Alexandria and Lemuria, Factor writes on myth and ritual, relics and reliquaries, attempting to explore what might otherwise have been completely lost. There is some fascinating movement through her poems, as she writes through a particular texture of dream-time, some of which occasionally falls a bit too deep into the abstract. “I do I do,” she writes, to open “Mistress of Honey,” “live in / dream time // thoughts consumed / by the mystery // wherein the mute / can hear both / a distant noise // & a subsuming / declaration // or any emerging / note [.]”


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