Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | Camille Martin

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Robert Majzels | Apikoros Sleuth | Mercury | 2004

Ostensibly a poetic detective story written in the form (literally) of Talmudic inquiry, Majzels’ murder mystery poses an alternative to the genre’s pre-occupation with logical maneuvers inevitably leading to a climactic solution. On another level, the book unfolds as a profound philosophical and ethical exploration of the relationship between self and Other. This doesn’t even begin to describe the beauty and inventiveness of the writing and its formal design. Much praise to Mercury Press for this epic undertaking. Unfortunately out of print but well worth tracking down.

Maxine Chernoff | Without | Shearsman | 2012

Timely and timeless elegies of impermanence, these short-lined poems sing, echo, dwindle, and sing again. Their skeletal appearance is deceptive: the swiveling syntax creates rich ambiguities that complements the feeling of bereftness that pervades the book.

Meredith Quartermain | Recipes from the Red Planet | BookThug | 2010

Perhaps it’s apropos that poetry claiming, tongue in cheek, alien provenance doesn’t come across as traditional lyrical, meditative poetry. In Recipes from the Red Planet, there’s a wildness, often breathlessness, to the voices that broadcast dramatic and narrative speech celebrating the free, unfettered riffing of imagination.

Click here to read more from my review on Rogue Embryo.

Anton Vander Zee, ed. | A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line | Iowa | 2011

Schools and camps come and go, but the line endures; we haven’t come close to running out of things to say about it. A Broken Thing gathers essays by poets on the venerable unit. The myriad of perspectives in this volume assures its place on my shelves as a lasting resource of poetics.

Ken Babstock | Methodist Hatchet | Anansi | 2011

Linguistically dazzling, syntactically rich. A sense of timing to die for. Did it merit the Griffin Poetry Prize? I think it did, but don’t take my word for it: get a copy and see for yourself. That sounded cheesy, but then so would more superlatives.

Lissa Wolsak | Squeezed Light: Collected Poems 1994 – 2005 | Station Hill | 2010

I love Madeline Gins’ description of Wolsak’s work as “porous”—not at all the same as “transparent” and preferable to “opaque.” To continue the metaphor of liquidity in a different way, when I read this poetry I feel engulfed in quiet yet teeming linguistic enigma. A remarkable collected that keeps on giving.

Tony Lopez | False Memory | Shearsman | 2012

Wonderful to see this new edition of interwoven sonnets by Lopez, in part collaged from cultural detritus yet also carefully spun, to devastating effect. And who can pass up a book of poetry with an index that tells you that “star-gazy pie” may be located on p. 13?

Ish Klein | Moving Day | Canarium | 2011

Klein’s poems exude personality, and that inimitable voice of hers makes them fun to read. It’s what Frank O’Hara might have sounded like if he had texted his poems.

Click here to read more from my review on Rogue Embryo.

Jeramy Dodds | Crabwise to the Hounds | Coach House | 2004

Dodd’s first book of poems is a show-stopper. Like Babstock’s Methodist Hatchet, the acuity of the language doesn’t settle for mere description—though some poems read like an exploded view of a nano-second. In fact, the poetry doesn’t so much settle as unsettle, and it does so with the most musical feeling for language that I’ve had the pleasure to read. Deservedly nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Nicole Markotic | Bent at the Spine | BookThug | 2012

Like arias on amphetamines (in a good way), the poems in Bent at the Spine warble and shape-shift with the virtuosity of an aviary magician. Dizzyingly playful and highly recommended.

Adam Seelig | Every Day in the Morning (Slow) | New Star | 2010

Seelig’s striking use of space on the page places the text in a liminal genre between prose narrative and poem. The lineation and zigzagging left margin might seem daunting at first—quite a bit of eye hockey required—but an expressive rhythm emerges that, like a song by Janacek, aligns with speech patterns and with the emotional hesitations and associative streams of thought characteristic of the internal monologue.

Click here to read more from my review on Rogue Embryo.


Camille Martin’s fourth book of poetry, Looms, will appear from Shearsman in October 2012. Her previous books are Sonnets (Shearsman, 2010), Codes of Public Sleep (BookThug, 2007), and Sesame Kiosk (Potes & Poets, 2001). Martin earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans and a PhD in English from Louisiana State University. She lives in Toronto.

This is Camille Martin’s first contribution to Attention Span. Back to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

October 13, 2012 at 10:54 am

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