Saturday, May 04, 2024

fahima ife, Septet for the Luminous Ones


and everything beneath our feet
is open for a second

the next general strike
to end all general

is at the helm of a siren

out west
pointe is in
the horizon

and out of touch

at the point there is

a playable field
a delicate blur

a line of empty vessels

an empty line of
vacation homes

a dead seal

below (“acid west”)

I’m fascinated at California-based fahima ife’s self-declaration as a “devotional lyrical poet,” a phrase included in the author biography for her second full-length collection, Septet for the Luminous Ones (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2024), a collection that follows her full-length debut, Maroon Choreography (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2021). One might attempt to seek clarification on whether she is devotional and a lyric poet or a poet of the devotional lyric, but I might suspect she a combination of the two, offering a lyric of sound and cadence, gestures that leap off the page in performance. These are poems that don’t simply require to be heard aloud, but manage to present themselves on the page as performance. “dust a distal broom corners vestibular inquisition number seven / vernacular insinuation number nine” begins the poem “of spirit, artificial symbiont,” “a blue dust pan / a dusty flute song          a boy in love // a staggering impulse to burn / then turn the fleeting lust as funk [.]” ife’s language offers such vibrancy, a propulsive and delightful oscillation and pause and choral that speaks of and to and through the very notion of devotion, heart and a hush, afterlife and time, desire and ritual, trauma and celebration, seeking to expand the light and lift up the dark. “what is the word / for the thing // like a traumatic / brain injury,” she writes, to open the poem “afterlife of the party, the order of time,” “not involving a / physical blow / to the head // but a sensual blow / to locale of sense // of being in time / and space / beyond / limits [.]” Through these lines, it would be impossible to not feel lifted.

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