Attention Span 2010 – Joshua Edwards
Pedro Ramos | Black Scabbard Research Centre | self-published | 2010
A pamphlet of menacing b&w coastal photos by a young Portuguese photographer who lives in Australia. It uses original work as well as photos appropriated for various media and friends. Highlights include a child sitting on a dead shark, a cliff diver, kissing teenagers, a bat being fed with a syringe, and a back-lit figure in a hoodie. Ramos is from Madeira Island, and his photos have been particularly helpful as work on a manuscript about my birthplace, Galveston, with my dad, using photos he took of the island about thirty years ago. Galveston has the dubious distinction of being featured in a forthcoming low budget sci-fi film, Monsters. Set mostly in Mexico and on the border, the movie’s scenes of devastated, carpet-bombed landscapes were filmed on Galveston after hurricane Ike. The film’s editor said “But we didn’t really need to create an illusion of mass destruction in Galveston,because it was already there, everywhere, after the hurricane. All we had to do is block out any view of the highway in the background. Otherwise, we got millions of dollars’ worth of production design for next to nothing.”
Samuel Amadon | Like a Sea | Iowa | 2010
Like a Sea is a formally restless book full of restless poems that are by turns aphoristic, hilarious, image-driven, sad, and meditative. As various as the poems are, Amadon’s voice is clear, albeit a chorus.
Rae Armantrout | Versed | Wesleyan | 2009
I heard Armantrout read for the first time earlier this year. I liked her poems before the reading, I loved them after. This book has plenty of the wit of pain, the pain of wit, etc.
Anne Carson | Nox | New Directions | 2010
I’ve mostly just stared at the pages of Nox, wishing I could place memoir and history in such elegant folds as does Carson. I think Rexroth would have gone apeshit for this thing.
Brandon Downing | Lake Antiquity | Fence | 2009
Lake Antiquity is beautiful and it makes me laugh.
Andrew Joron | Trance Archive | City Lights | 2010
What an ear! “Constellations for Theremin,” an excerpt of which is in this book, is one of the most stunning poems I’ve come across in a long time. Joron writes like someone born yesterday to parents from tomorrow.
Ayane Kawata, trans. Sawako Nakayasu | Time of Sky & Castles in the Air | Litmus | 2010
Another great translation by Sawako Nakayasu. I was lucky to read this in manuscript form, and I’ve been rereading it since. Ayane Kawata’s terrifying dreams make for awesome poems.
Ibn Khalawayh, trans. David Larsen | Names of the Lion | Atticus/Finch | 2009
One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen (designed by Michael Cross), Names of the Lion is better beheld than commented on. Larsen’s introduction and notes are excellent.
César Moro | La tortuna ecuestre y otros poemas en español | Biblioteca Nueva | 2002
I heard about Moro last summer from a Peruvian friend. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much unknown to English readers and very little of his work has been published in translation. We’re doing a feature on him in Mantis, publishing some of his French poems from Love Until Death (he wrote mostly in French, his second language, after moving to Europe in his twenties). La tortuga ecuestre y otros poemas en español consists of his first book and some uncollected early work.
Sawako Nakayasu | Texture Notes | Letter Machine | 2010
A book of surfaces and dreams, voyages and events, measurements, meals, colors, and, above all, the body pressed up against the world. Another year, another great book by one of my favorite poets.
William Wylie | Route 36 | Flood | 2010
Flood did a terrific job producing this book of b&w photos of landscapes and small town architecture in Kansas and Colorado. An introduction by Merrill Gilfillan provides some context. My dad is a documentary photographer, and I’ve always been interested in the lyrical possibilities of projects like this that reflect the essential gaze. I hope Flood publishes more photography titles, and I’m definitely going to look into Wylie’s other books.