Tuesday, March 21, 2023

SOME : sixth issue,

I’m always taken with Rob Manery’s poetry journal SOME out of Vancouver [contributions and correspondence via somepoetrymagazine (at) gmail (dot) com], as it always includes highly engaged new work by contemporary poets, including numerous Canadian poets, that I don’t usually see published in literary journals (there are some that might recall Manery as being half of the late 80s/90s hole magazine and hole books with Louis Cabri, that focused on a Kootenay School of Writing-leaning aesthetic). The sixth issue of SOME [see my review of the fifth issue; see my review of the second issue] includes new work by Kevin Davies, Jessica Grim, Scott Inniss, Pierre Joris, Melanie Neilson and Larry Price, and each contribution to this particular issue offers work that each exist across some rather large spaces. From New York City Kootenay School of Writing alum Kevin Davies comes “from Untitled 2014-2018,” a text of loops and excess, furthering and returning back to the beginning. Honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I saw work from Davies, although I certainly have a copy of his Pause Button (Tsunami Editions, 1992), picked up when Manery hosted him in Ottawa soon after the book landed, through his N400 Reading Series at the Manx Pub, but haven’t seen anything of Comp (Edge Books, 2000), The Golden Age of Paraphernalia (Edge Books, 2008) or FPO (Edge Books, 2020). As a stanza, already mid-sentence, of this expansive “Untitled 2014-2018” reads:

home and which is bedlam and it doesn’t matter because we’ve thrown
most things away, pretty much everything, though not everything, there are
still things at home when we arrive later after all that dizziness, and unbroken
things repurposed or posing as new, good enough, just look at the spelling
of that word, “-ough” makes an F sound then does it, that’s a candidate
for being thrown away except we tried already and it doesn’t work,
newfangled spelling quickly looks old and disposable and the old
forms stick around good as newts, so let’s not bother with that, let’s instead
forge new categories of things so that they once categorized can be judged
old and unneeded and thrown away, let’s not pay attention
to the consequences of all this divestiture, too depressing, we’re likely

The lyric set through here seems massive, even impossibly so, and one can only hope that this work might appear in book-length form at some point, just to get a better sense of the scale. Oberlin, Ohio-based Jessica Grim and Queens, New York-based Melanie Neilson, two poets I’m previously unfamiliar with, offer the collaborative “from The Autobiography of Jean Foos,” each page offering a triptych of five-line stanzas, otherwise untitled. The ongoingness of the lines here are reminiscent of the “Continuations” collaboration between the late Edmonton poet Douglas Barbour and Phoenix, Arizona poet Sheila E. Murphy, much of which appeared in print via Continuations (University of Alberta Press, 2006) and Continuations 2 (University of Alberta Press, 2012) [see my review of such here]. According to their author biographies at the back of the issue, the two co-founded and co-edited the journal Big Allis (1989-2000), “a magazine focusing on experimental writing by women.” Grim and Neilson’s lines are equally ongoing, riffing and referencing current events, bouncing across moments and images to stitch together a collage that stretches on for pages. “Now situated density fumes cartoon avenue pixelating my tree wimple,” the first page of their excerpt offers, “ragged and funny I pondered, succeed in life without selling? / epic career-swapping trash talks link overhead tenement melange / sing song inveterately figured leafy space significant leap in way / shrill winter grays alleviate mime activity uptick house on fire [.]”

I’m startled by the precision of Vancouver-based poet Scott Inniss’ work; there’s a jangle to his lines, one that staccatos across a lengthy narrative. As part of his “Five poems” in this assemblage, the opening of his sequence “Back Shelve” reads: “What these people have is not / the comic together. // Surface resisting, spatial recessing, / her last days gazing. // The question of reality or / the wounded I didn’t. // Well the world may run, / asking and giving. // The means of uniting / the disdain is final.” Subsequently, BayRidge, Brooklyn-based poet Pierre Joris’ “Four Poems” within this issue also each exist across a large canvas; Joris composes a lyric that immediately expands into big ideas, expansive and highly deliberate placement and line-breaks, stretching out and seeking out the impossible. As he writes:

to your birth year
you can only look back
on it, as it becomes
visible. as you leave
it, as
the years pass & you
grow older.

Do not forget it.
I mean the birth year,
that anchors you in
this world that is
cave & light,
learn to read the
drawings on its
walls, they are
your entry.

California poet Larry Price is another name I was previously unaware of, and his work in this new issue is “from The Fictive World,” a piece constructed as two numbered sections of extended prose accumulations, the first of which is the five-page “In the Zone / of Ontic Extrusions,” and the second, the five-page “The Unrefracted Animal / in My Outburst.” His author biography via Small Press Distribution offers a bit more information than what he sent along for SOME, and reads: “Larry Price has been a poet, a performance artist, a book designer, a publisher and a graphic artist. Born in California, he went to school in Santa Barbara and San Francisco, living in the City until 1988, when he moved to New Jersey, where he lives still, working as the Creative Director in a design studio. He founded GAZ in 1982, publishing work by, among others, Harryman, Day, Fuller, Watten and Pearson. His own books include Proof (Tuumba 1982), Crude Thinking (GAZ 1985), No (world version) (Zasterle 1990), Circadium (Ubu Editions 2002), and The Quadragene (Roof 2008).” There is certainly something performative through Price’s language, one that holds as much an element of sound and gesture, both precise and sweeping, as text on the page. The first page of the opening piece reads:

HERE are three shells. Place your debts, mesdames et
messieurs, place your debts and play.

The first (watch carefully) is the Village (how large or
how small), whose capital is the mutual phonemes of our
lesions. (Note the nether movements by which it glints &
flashes across the board.)

The second is Law. Law is an indifference shifting from
a wilderness of noise to a wilderness of meaning. Matter
is not a sufficient explanation. Our thingly dependence
exists only for comparison. For example, if I were the last
billionaire on earth, what would be the point?

The third is Freedom. One minute of freedom is the
motive for whole swathes of people who, in spite of
themselves, hold freedom to be crazy. Which is why
the idiosyncracy of reason endures in the master’s raw
existence. A false debt to anything ecept imaginal life.

In any case, poetry is not nothing. Always it affirms a
new crisis, a new game.


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