“Poets are our professional observers,” quotes Yamaguchi, before looking closely to see how traditional “witness” sorts with its evil twin: “surveillance.” It could be that poets can sometimes do both, and in the process engage our contemporary culture in untraditional ways.
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Mary Jo Bang is a slippery poet, with a mind that often seems a few seconds ahead of itself. A quick glance at the cover of her new book, The Last Two Seconds, perfectly encapsulates this kind of speed: the monorail that has just slipped from our frame of vision, the typography of the title trailing like a futurist contrail. It is this trailing, however, that is a crucial point—this collection is not about the next two seconds, but the last—as in the last two seconds you’ve just spent reading this sentence.
Take a quick leap of scale and you land at the collection’s central concern: history. . .
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