Attention Span 2010 – Matvei Yankelevich
Maged Zaher | Portrait of the Poet As an Engineer | Pressed Wafer | 2009
This is a poet. This is an engineer. What better combination? Emotion collides with technology, programming with psychology. Lingo cohabits with angst. This is really strong work with it’s very own thing, with influences divergent enough to create something different but not unfamiliar. I like reading this book and giving it to people and then buying it again.
Graham Foust | A Mouth in California | Flood | 2009
I tried to read new poetry this year, actual books, not just chapbooks and manuscripts, and I’ve been meaning to find out—who is Graham Foust, and what’s he all about. This book is a pure depressive joy to read, like listening to Modest Mouse’s first album. Or something like that. It’s a mouth in pain, perhaps. But it’s beautiful, some of the phrases I just had to re-read and re-read. He does stuff, a kind of performative utterance, in each poem. A twist that I physically feel. I think maybe Graham Foust is a Physical Poet par-excellence.
Catherine Wagner | My New Job | Fence | 2009
I loved the “My New Job” section of this book most. It made me jump, or it jolted me—a kind of aesthetic/intellectual/visceral response I can’t quite locate or describe. Cathy Wagner startles as before, but does the job newer, leaner, better.
Macgregor Card | Duties of an English Foreign Secretary | Fence | 2009
This is a book of adventures that always bring the author and the reader back to one’s friends, for high-tea maybe, or for a heart-felt reunion. The words themselves become Macgregor Card’s friends, too; he sees them—and says them—again and again. My friend Ellie Ga’s cover photo is a pretty great reason for loving it, too. See, friends again. But, though many of the poems are dedicated (or feature as characters) real live friends (and also aesthetic-friends of the authors that are long gone, like the Spasmodic poets), it never feels like an in-thing or a closed circle. It’s a book that nourishes the reader with its hospitality. And hospitality bears repeating.
Robert Fitterman | Sprawl | Make Now | 2009
LOL. Do actually read trough it. The Mall of the Subconscious. Very subtly done. Consumer review: I was impressed by the variety this store has to offer, and the prices are reasonable.
Danielle Dutton | Sprawl | Siglio | 2010
Yes, same title. Totally different, though read in tandem… could be quite interesting. Sprawl is one of the best new novels of our time, no question. Diane Williams hovers nearby, as does Markson in its disassociations, and maybe Abish in its obsessions. As does Douglas Sirk. Discomfort in Suburbia.
Ish Klein | Union! | Canarium | 2009
Surprises abound. I like the way the logic twists slowly over the time of the long-ish poems. The centering of the lines put me off at first, but then I got into it. Ish Klein has a unique sympathy for everything her language touches even when it’s in despair. Nice title!
Kristin Prevallet | I, Afterlife: An Essay in Mourning Time | Essay Press | 2007
Been meaning to read it since it came out… Finally did. And glad I did. Resonated with me personally. Ideas about elegy here were not only compelling but very useful, both to life and to poetics. It’s a beautiful use of essay, narrative, and poetry interwoven, without being some kind of forced “hybrid.”
William Carlos Williams | Spring & All | Frontier Press (reprint of the 1923 Contact Press edition) | 1970
It is a pleasure to read this in its own edition as a separate little book. I keep doing it. Spring and Fall.
(When will we get the original Lost Lunar Baedeker in a reprint edition, or a new one of Spring and All…? Any takers…? Is New Directions gonna do it?)
Douglas Rothschild | Theogony | Subpress | 2009
How do you pronounce that again? In any case, it suit this book to follow Williams in this little list. Politics, yes. “Minor Arcana” is of course a canonical text as far as digestion of the Bush-years goes. And it’s laugh-out-loud, as the kids say. But there’s much more here. Very delicate stuff made with a persevering hand. A light trace of knuckle on these pages. Something I can come back to.
Mac Wellman | Miniature | Roof | 2002
Weird and wonderful poems. Defamiliarize yourself.
Mac Wellman | The Difficulty of Crossing a Field | Minnesota | 2008
Wow… Especially awesome forward by Helen Shaw, and Wellman’s ongoing essay: “Speculations: An Essay on the Theater.” Great thinking, great writing, plus wry humor! Could be read alongside R. Foreman’s Unbalancing Acts as the big turn in turn of the century poetic theater (not poet’s theater). (With all the current buzz about poet’s theater, one must wonder why we poets, as a rule, aren’t reading plays or going to the theater to see what we have to learn from the other “dying” art-form. On that note…)
Sibyl Kempson | Crime or Emergency | 53rd State | 2009
I loved the fireball production of this at PS122. The text is like a mash-up of soap opera and action thriller and Bruce-Springstein-cabaret. Or maybe… Knife on the Water + The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant + Warhol’s Cowboys. Yikes.
Raymond Queneau | Witch Grass | NYRB Classics | 2003
Some confusion: the old edition of the same (great) translation is titled The Bark-Tree. (The translator, the incomparable Barbara Wright, explains why she changed the title.) But I think the translation in this re-issue is the same. This has to be the craziest (first) novel ever… 1933! So beautiful. So Pascal. So funny. So melancholy. Dig the ending(?). Nothing compares.