Tuesday, August 23, 2005


ANNE-MARIE ALBIACH, Two Poems: Flammigere & The line the loss. Translated by Peter Riley. Shearsman, 2004. Widely translated into English, Albiach’s work is sorely under-represented in the 2004 Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry. Albiach’s verse—like the prose of Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva—explores the power of language and its connection to the psychological landscape of a western consciousness mired in conventional conceptions of womanhood, a place “where the language/ goes back on its word”.

BOB ARNOLD, Cairn. Tel-Let, 2004. Written in commemoration of poet and editor Cid Corman (1924-2004), the book is both extended eulogy and private journal recording the construction of a cairn in memory of Corman. While the central thread tying each poem together is the memory of Corman, the work begins with the life-affirming act of making love and ends in common prayer amongst family and friends.

ROBIN BLASER & MEREDITH QUARTERMAIN, Wanders. Nomados, 2002. Quartermain responds to poems faxed her by Robin Blaser, line for line, breath for breath, syllable for syllable, recording the experience of reading Blaser. Blaser’s faxed poems lie on the left-hand page while Quartermain’s lie on the right like an ethereal shadow following an image bent against the sun, a call and subsequent echo.

KATHLEEN FRASER, Hi ddevioleth I dde violet, 2003. Per Marjorie Perloff: “Fraser’s linguistic play and typographical invention have never been more assured or brilliant. This is a poem to read, hear, and look at again and again: Fraser’s Easter ode represents one of our most inventive poets writing at the top of her form.”

STEFAN HYNER, 10,000 Journeys: Selected Poems, 1977-2003. Skanky Possum Press, 2005. Per Joanne Kyger: “Pungent playful leaps of language, jumping continents like the Monkey King, Stefan Hyner travels onward, spins the globe, and returns to the familiar woodpile of home.” Anglophone poems by a poet/translator that has delivered many American poets to European readers and many European poets to American readers.

KENT JOHNSON, Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz. effing press, 2005. The title poem, published last year by BlazeVox has created quite a ruckus. Using Adorno’s well-known statement as a springboard, Johnson discusses the current war in Iraq and the concurrent insularity of the sympathetic but unscathed, seemingly radical American intelligentsia.

JOHN MARTONE, Dogwood & Honeysuckle. Red Moon Press, 2004. The short poem driven by syllable, by an acute understanding of the relationship between phoneme and morpheme. In many of the short poems contained within this collection line break is determined by phoneme, by accent and stress—words busted up and broken down like the petals of the varied flora discussed in the work. The collective cognitive understanding which binds syllables together to form words mirrors the delicate threads that secure people to one another within the text. The poems are arranged on the page in a seemingly haphazard manner—as might be people standing in a crowd or flora growing in the wild.

FRANK SAMPERI, Spiritual Necessity. John Martone, ed. Station Hill Press, 2004. A much needed collection of Samperi’s work which speaks to the interiority of spiritual meditation so characteristic of Samperi. Using classical literature and scholarship as a foundational point of reference, Samperi moves into and examines the contemporary world, the world of clamorous city streets too often devoid of spiritual calm and intellectual reason.

DALE SMITH, My Vote Counts. effing press, 2004. Written, of course, after the outrage, after the shocking reelection of GWB in light of corporate scandal, economic recession, government corruption, the waging of an unwarranted and unpopular war-- after the largest mobilization to register voters in recorded history.

DALE SMITTH, Notes No Answer. Habenicht Press, 2005. Here Smith explores the contemplative possibilities of the short poem, informed perhaps by the legacy of Corman, Samperi and others—their work itself deeply influenced and shaped by classical East Asian poetics, particularly the variant forms of the Japanese short poem. Smith’s work here, however, pulls into the ring broken bits of western culture, a sort of globalization in verse where “boogie-woogie” is found lying a few feet away from a “punk rock juke box” pumping out Pogues’ tunes.