Book Review, “Testament,” by G. C. Waldrep


“The body as sculpture,” Testament—G. C. Waldrep’s book-length poem—begins, and with it we feel the steadying gesture that prefaces any great feat—fingers at one’s temples, eyes closed, the breath held. He goes on:

The body as sculpture. (Pageant, labyrinth.)
Wrapped like Central Park or Marin
in Christo’s silk, wiving into a future
of minerals and taffeta, hypocausts and gorse.
We have computers to calculate the rocket’s
rate of descent, its pure metaphor.

And we see right away what sort of virtuosity—one hundred and thirty pages of it—lies before us. . .

Read the review at NewPages

A review of my book! At Cleaver Magazine, by Johnny Payne

“This chaste book could be titled The Story of O. Ryo Yamaguchi rhapsodizes, if more quietly, in the mood of Keats when he exclaims “O for a Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!”:

O machine, O accord, I no longer ask the things I need
not ask . . .

the slow atmosphere of story has refused too long

to seat my rhythms, and I
have refused to elaborate myself through its lines.

His drama of sensate consciousness is based on the refusal (ergo the title) to follow the suit of narrative poetry, in favor of the mind’s free play. Yet one may legitimately ask, as we sometimes do of historical novels, whether the writer courts anachronism or rather renews the proposition. In the case of Yamaguchi, the answer is complex. . .

Read the review at Cleaver Magazine.

Pressures of Luminosity: Aase Berg’s “Dark Matter” and HDR Photography


(Cliff over Houses, © Eivind K. Dovik)

Aase Berg’s Dark Matter is an unrelentingly intense book, a fact that translator Johannes Göransson mentions more than once in his terrific introduction, in which Berg herself, in a quoted interview with Double Room, seems maybe a little embarrassed, about the work being “sickeningly kitschy.” It is early, searching work, comprised of both prose and lineated poems, with a full hydraulic force behind it. It is horror more like Saw than Nightmare on Elm Street—and really more like Revelations than either of those: torture, deformity, blackness, pain, extrusion, shriveling, burning, moaning, animation and suffocation, dark landscapes of the uncanny. Try this on:

And shadows of mongoloids, pinheads, fatdogs, and androids moved toward the wood, rubbed against the fossils and the veinage in the cell walls. There the body was harrowed by beasts, thrown back and forth in a deadsilent battlefight between muscle mechanisms and distorted images, between large milk-white moray eels inside the vein-burst petal skin.

But to approach this collection with gleeful squeamishness, to merely relish its transgressions, to feel raw about it, or worse, at home among your fucked-up people, is, of course, to miss something. This is a visionary project, far more than a simple paean to the grotesque. It is poetry steeped in the Anthropocenic nightmare of industry and apocalypse. It is a book of love and its interlocutors. It is a work of art, a mimesis of the surreal whose efforts are palpable—imbued with the distinct feel of a work-in-progress that strives to, and succeeds at, attaining a new lexicon, a marriage of image and language into a hybrid materiality that, at its best, is exhilaratingly smart and wholly complete.

But the argument I really want to make is, perhaps, much smaller. It is that this is book of opposites, of darkness and of light. That this is a book of HDR photography. . .

Read more at The Hairsplitter