Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kate Greenstreet, Now that things are changing

American poet Kate Greenstreet was good enough to send along her latest title, the hand-sewn full-sized chapbook Now that things are changing (arrow as arrow, 2024), her first publication in quite some time since her fourth full-length title, The End of Something (Boise ID: Ahsahta Press, 2017) [see my review of such here], the fourth in a quartet that suggested an ending, just as this small collection teases at a kind of pivot, perhaps. A pivot into and towards something further, else. As she wrote of that fourth collection as part of her 2017 interview in Touch the Donkey, realizing that, through composing The End of Something, as she offered, “[…] I was putting down a fourth corner to define a formerly open-ended space.” There was a finality there that certainly felt final, suggesting she was simply moving on to other projects, other things, and would return to poetry in her own way, in her own time, and perhaps, through this, we are inching closer to that time. In certain ways, Now that things are changing exists as a covert publication, as Greenstreet has been seemingly-silent on publishing poems since the publication of The End of Something, and the final arrow as arrow blog post in 2010 leads to a website that no longer exists (and I can’t find contacts for series editors Michael Slosek or Luke Daly, despite whatever breadcrumbs the internet might offer). Do any of them even exist? [UPDATE: their website is actually here] Of the fifteen publications listed at the back of Now that things are changing (numbered sixteen in the series), the first thirteen of these occasional chapbooks appeared semi-regularly, from 2006 to 2014, followed by Cedar Sigo’s On the Way in 2021, Hannah Brooks-Motl’s Still Life in 2022, and now this, appearing with the date “Winter 2024.”

We were only going to be there a couple of days, but the first
thing I did was scrub the wall above the stove, wash the floor,
and move the furniture around. I put the big chair in a corner
of the kitchen, where the light was best. Then I took a bath.

What was possible that never became actual?
What else was real?

Either way, perhaps I should just hold on to the fact that this small chapbook of poem-fragments rests in my hands. Now that things are changing is similar in structure and tone to her prior published poetry, self-contained lyric first-person sections of meditative commentary and speculation that sit one to a page and allow for the interaction, almost accumulation, of playing cards: less a narrative trajectory than a game of poem-fragment solitaire, each new piece reacting to all that came prior. “Lately I’ve been working in silence.” she writes, close to the opening of the collection. “No music, hardly / reading. Walking in the mornings, almost no one on the street. / Abandoned storefronts, barber shop, a laundromat. A few / parked cars that never move.” The poems sit as three clusters of seven poems each (twenty-one in total), suggesting a measure of some sense of narrative trajectory, even as these poems lean into a kind of ongoing field notes on life on earth, silence, interiority and the body. Throughout, these poems, this chapbook, offer a curious kind of catch-all that manages to be simultaneously composed of self-contained units and building blocks toward something larger. “You can’t deny plot.” She writes, as part of the third cluster, “The way it moves. The way it pulls down dirt and trees from / both sides of the river.”

It's been snowing all day. Last night, a big fire several blocks
away. You can’t really talk about faith without coming to the
topic of being forsaken.

I made a list with the heading: What do we look for in
relationships? The last thing I thought of was corroboration.
Plot development was number two.


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