Ghost | Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher
|Ghost / Landscape||Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher||BlazeVOX [books]|
When Henry David Thoreau wrote “The stars are the apexes to what triangles,” I’m not so sure he had poetry collaborations in mind. And yet, when Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher say—though which one says it, or both, or none, I don’t know—“Soon we wonder why we’re both thinking about astronomy, and at exactly the same time,” I begin to see by a sidereal light that collaboration at its best may be no more than two poets far apart gazing up at the same star’s height, and what fills the triangle is the poem, otherwise known as art. These poems of “shared consciousness” make of individual life a jointly lived thing, so much so, that “we” hides in every “I” and “you.” These collaborative poems gather us into their intimate community, and once within these pages, we glimpse what poetry might long have tried to teach us: how it is we go about learning to think, learning to see, learning to feel together.
One measure of the potency of literature is that its strangeness forces the reader to change her world to incorporate it, or to leave her world and join the one the writer has created. In this case, Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher's extraordinary domestic noir, GHOST / LANDSCAPE, creates both responses in me: transformation and relocation. Part of this book's wonderful strangeness, of course, arises from the nature of the collaboration between Darling and Gallaher, as their voices transform and relocate, blend and electrify into a single speaker (I, you, we) that longs for conversation: "I tried to phone you, but the snow went on for miles." This ache for articulation, for communion, is further complicated by the middle-class American ennui, dark humor, and matter-of-fact violence of the book. I finished GHOST / LANDSCAPE with the certainty that I have at least two voices, and one murder, inside me. This book will stay with me for a very long time.
—Allison Benis White
Too often coauthored poetry books feel more like exercises than true, vital collections. Not so with Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher’s GHOST / LANDSCAPE. These startling poems push against the boundaries of daily living through sustained attention and quiet articulation. “I’m busy looking at everything I’m looking at,” Darling and Gallaher assert in one poem; in another they say of the suburban landscape in which many of these poems are set, “We can lift it up from the edges and look underneath. It’s like looking into a mirror.” Often the worlds of these poems feel dreamlike, populated at the perimeter with the ghosts of past and present as we eavesdrop on the only living voices merging, ultimately, into one human voice. And though the poems can be playful and self-reflexive—as one would expect from these two terrific postmodern poets—ultimately this is an intimate and surprisingly unified book of big ideas: “We all think we’re having different lives, when really there’s only one life and we’re sharing it.”
GHOST / LANDSCAPE reads like an intimate chat, except not the kind people have over tea. Maybe it's whiskey causing these emotional flare-ups ("They warned me about you"), these bouts of nostalgia ("You wake wondering where the antique chickens are"), these lamentations about lost love (count the number of missed phone calls throughout), these discomfiting confessions ("...I had always thought unhappiness would be easy"). The chemistry between these poets is electric; it lights up the page.
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose, including Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Ora Lerman Trust, and the Rockefeller Archive Center. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.
John Gallaher is the author of five books of poetry, Gentlemen in Turbans, Ladies in Cauls (2001), The Little Book of Guesses (2007), winner of the Levis Poetry Prize, Map of the Folded World (2009), Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (with G.C. Waldrep, 2011), and In a Landscape (2014), as well as two chapbooks, and two edited collections, The Monkey and the Wrench (with Mary Biddinger) and Time Is a Toy: the Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt (with Laura Boss). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, Boston Review, Chicago Review, and elsewhere. He lives in rural Missouri where he teaches and co-edits The Laurel Review.
· Paperback: 102 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-240-2