amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gleanings from the Web


According to its about page, "THE VOLTA is a multimedia project of poetry, criticism, poetics, video, conversation (audio), and interview (text)."

This online magazine is a prime example of why the Internet can be such a perfect vehicle for the design, publication and dissemination of creative works. It has 8 separate and voluminous sections and not all of them are purely two-dimensional text-based.

This issue focuses on what lies beneath layers of detritus; taboo, unexpressed thoughts, a poetics of wasted life, mourning, desire, the subversion of administered language.

As a wanderer who discovers found objects such as silver spoons at construction sites & various neglected bits & bobs, and a pornographer (a dear friend tells me this word means writer of taboos) I find this issue very alluring, including but not limited to

the surprisingly delicate fan collages layered with garbage from Parisian streets by Alice Notely & subsequent interview:  "I started doing this in Chicago a long time ago, not with fans, but with rectangles; and I used a lot of newsprint, those pages in the Sunday papers advertising hedges and flowers were a favorite. […]There isn’t a lot of garbage in Paris. When I first arrived here I kept finding pearls (faux) on the ground, so there were a lot of pearls on the fans. Women seem to lose pieces of jewelry here more than they did in New York."

Evening will come, a sub-section of the issue is chock full of compelling writing by poets on the how & why of their projects, including but by no means limited to…

Allison Cob's  intriguing excerpt "Garbage" from "Plastic: an autobiography" about a WWII bit of plastic, a Navy ID tag, that had been found inside a dead albatross in the Philippines. "What still exists, we know this—the plastic bits from inside the bird’s body. Maybe they sit in the landfill on Molokai. Or maybe they’re back in the water—washed down a storm drain or blown from a trash bin. The plastic will outlast the bones, the sand, this writing. How long? No one knows. Five-hundred years? A thousand?" Cob first saw the photo of the albatross carcass with the plastic tag inside in a photo in the National Geographic.  The image haunted her…a loose end, along with other loose ends, such as one of her journals, missing from the journals she had  rescued from the rain, after having second thoughts about throwing them out. How does paper break down over time? How does plastic?

CAConrad's quiet feral interiors, a tale of rating semen entitled "Suspension Fluid Magnificence"…its mix of taboo, pathos and humour. "How is wilderness memorized into the body? What lens does it provide? I went to where the wild is mostly hidden."

a. rawlings'  "Rusl: Trash in Iceland," a work centred around the idea of what we choose to delete and which includes an breathtaking slide show of ice, beach stones, degraded plastic bottles, cigarette butts, drift wood, rope. "The island was covered with what the ocean dumped onto and the weather dragged over it. Net buoys, shipwreck wood, rope, plastic containers. I looked closer. Swan death, unidentified bones. The Atlantic pulled green and red seaweed onto the shore, deposited it. I photographed bodies and parts of crabs, freshly dismantled by gulls during tidal recession."

Jonathan Regier's "Dogleaf": "The historian of astronomy tells us that if a glass cathedral existed, it would be a tremendous and communal work, transmitted from generation to generation like sensitive, everlasting grapes."

There's so much magic in this issue. I'm going to stop here & let you discover for yourself.

The February issue is also something to sink your teeth into. It's a special issue on anthologies.

A poet I admire named Lisa Jarnot (read Black Dog Songs) has a list of 50 things for the new year, which includes such activities as knitting one hundred hats & defiant lightness. 

The eighth issue of 17 Seconds, a magazine curated by my dear friend, rob mclennan came out this past fall. It continues the defunct site, Poetics.ca which was run by rob and  Stephen Brockwell. the idea is to spark conversations about poetics through interviews, reviews, essays etc. It's a way to get more critical writing about poetry out there. I am all in favour of such. Hence the AngelHousePress essay series…
The 8th issue of 17 seconds has contributions from 6 poets in Canada and the USA.

Amy Dennis' offers entrancing work in her "Composition c. 1950 Wols.), an ekphrastic series on the art work of Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), a lyrical abstract painter I had never heard of before and will now seek out. I have to say that there is something of the Duende in Amy's poetry, a kind of dark magic. Given my own fascination with colour, it's not surprising that I would glory in lines such as these: And although/a part of me believes//in the roots/of that dark blue flower/drinking from my inner wrist, I say to myself/there can't be such a bloom//living in my body;" (ii. Wols. mashes lilac and geranium/into the circumference of a mauve bruise). But it's not just the colour, don't get me wrong. In this work the poet shows savvy observation abilities and a capacity for deep thought: "So much/of him was gypsum on the wet fingers/of Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir who helped him/brawl hangovers" I love the unsualness of the verb "brawl." "All Wols had//was abstraction and an absent father who left/him thinking God preferred flies to men."  I have published Amy's work in the most recent issue of Experiment-O.com, Issue Six. I think she is a writer whose work deserves more attention. Thanks to rob mclennan for bringing her to mine.

Phil Hall has a piece which muses over/critiques/questions a review of Sue Goyette's latest poetry book, "Ocean." The review was written by Chad Campbell and published in Maisonneuve. I haven't yet read "Ocean" but after reading this review of a review and hearing Sue Goyette talk about the book with Sheila Rogers on a recent edition of CBC's the Next Chapter, I have added it to my wish list. Sue describes the as a biography of the ocean, which is a novel idea to me. I found Phil's argument to be both logical and impassioned. He takes apart the notion that there is something wrong with confessionalism in poetry and defends metaphor. I am a fervent admirer of Phil's work. I like the fact that he is willing to passionately come out on the side of a fellow poet in a thoughtful piece that isn't at all a hyperbolic lauding of  the writer's work, but also includes some critique. I'd love to see more critiques and responses to critiques written in this way. It isn't an attack of the reviewer; it calls into question the reviewer's point of reference: academia and offers a few other possibilities.



I was pleased at the opportunity to read more of Joshua Marie Wilkinson's poetry. I have been a fan of his since I first read, "lug your careless body out of the careful dusk: a poem in fragments"(University of Iowa Press, 2006) and winner of the Iowa poetry prize.  I have dog-eared many pages of this books owing to the sensual imagery therein. & lines like these: "Cities are for/breaking you into several people/ at once." The poems in 17 seconds are a series entitled "the Easement" and they are full of lush and beguiling imagery: "In the deepening twilight, the earth swims into its nets/to bring old lovers kissing in a woods,/a street corner,/a beach head with kids oohing/& cheering, a starfish gleaming/a tidepool to the eye of a drifted dog trot/trotting sandy, sort of lost,  happy, lost & alright."

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