Zoom Blog

Archive for May 2014

Music for another life by Kristina Marie Darling and Max Avi Kaplan reviewed at Poet Hound


Max Avi Kaplan’s photography capture a glamorous 1950’s high-style woman who is spun into a wife who reveals the unglamorous side of domestic bliss under Kristina Marie Darling’s skilled hands. I am not able to share the photos that pair with each poem, so please sneak a peek any way you can and/or purchase a copy for yourself, the photos truly set the scene for each piece. A woman named Adelle, who longs for domestic bliss and finds none, she is one who abandons the notion only to reveal the complexities of having been part of married life and then no longer being part of the world so highly touted by conventional society. The balance of being married and no longer being married tilts back and forth in the pages as Adele’s thoughts melt into readers’ minds as Darling challenge the “conventional norm.” Darling and Kaplan bring forth the all too familiar diatribe of women who “snag a man” only to become invisible to them as they keep the house clean while also trying to strap on their high heels and dresses only to find their once devoted lover glued to the television screen or worse, running off to be with another woman who has distracted them away from home. Below I am happy to reveal a few samples:

ADELLE BURIES HERSELF FOR A WEEK

I always wondered what it would be like to live alone. Back then I thought I might still acquire friends, hobbies, or pets. I knew I’d keep the tea kettle warm, real daisies blooming outside the window. What I didn’t imagine back then was the stillness. Every room seems like an ocean. I tried buying myself new things: a television, some dishes, a new bed set. Now my pillow is soft but the stone walls are firm. No one ever wants to come in for tea or cocoa. Every time I close my eyes I hear the kettle shriek.

I love this piece because it hits home for me in a different way. Whenever I lived completely alone I found myself very happy yet noticed that the social life dropped off in a dramatic way just as Darling indicates above. I especially love the line “Every room seems like an ocean,” because I know exactly what she means. Each room’s emptiness vast and expanding when you are all alone. When you go to bed alone, you imagine sounds that are not there because there is no one else to distract you from yourself. Here Adelle is adjusting to life on her own and finding the balance of trying to make herself happy in this new state of being alone while thinking about all that she wishes for such as friends dropping in or pets greeting her at the door.


READ THE WHOLE REVIEW HERE

Read more »

Vow by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed in NEW PAGES

 

Vow

Poetry by Kristina Marie Darling

BlazeVOX [books], October 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1-60964-160-3

Paperback: 56pp; $16.00

Review by H. V. Cramond

Kristina Marie Darling’s Vow is simultaneously familiar and strange. The title itself evokes Anne Waldman’s Vow to Poetry, but one look at the small, spare book tells you that this is a different thing. It is, like Waldman’s book, a text about text, but not just in content:

4. Desiccate
            †1. To render something dull, lifeless or dry
            ††2. To preserve
5. The film follows its heroine as she photographs the scorched altar, and later catalogues these images within the sprawling university archives.

Darling uses appendices, footnotes, and other forms usually reserved for academic writing to create a book as an object of desire, which as Anne Carson explains inEros: The Bittersweet, is desirable because of, not in spite of, its elusiveness. One footnote reads: “I respect most the men who’ve refused me: the bridegroom, with his corridor of locked rooms; you, the light descending on a burned house; Saint Jude of the Lost Causes, despite the roses I leave at his scorched altar.”

Vow witnesses a wedding and the marriage that follows: before us is a white dress, a dark-haired man, an altar, a locked door. Each successive image builds on the last while resisting any readerly impulse to ground it in allusion. Is the pale-dressed woman wandering a hallway of locked doors Bluebeard’s wife? Is this Bertha Mason, dreaming of fire, or is it Jane Eyre? “I dream another me exists in the burning house, reading aloud from what I have written. Broken glass. A sad film. The awkward silence.”

But, dear Reader, Darling does not want you getting lost in a good story and forgetting, briefly, that you have a book in your hands. Vow constantly reminds the reader of his or her role as watcher, as translator, as participant in a “version of this story.” But the reader, finding the mirror of literature shattered, still finds herself “unmade”:

                                                                        The 
empty frame. He stares at the glittering pieces, trying to
distinguish between self and other.

By the time Vow reaches appendix C, the house’s “flawless architecture” burning around us, words are overtaken with white space: the silence after a fight, the chill after a flame has gone out. In this space, union takes place and analysis fails. Unable to separate one perspective from another, the reader is left to feel the vibration that occurs when music ceases.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW HERE
Check out VOW by Kristina Marie Darling here
Read more »

Kristina Marie Darling, Interviewed at the Conversant!

 

VIRGINIA KONCHAN WITH KRISTINA MARIE DARLING AND LIGHTSEY DARST

Darling and Darst
Kristina Marie Darling and Lightsey Darst

This interview focuses on Kristina Darling’s X Marks the Dress: a Registry, co-authored with Carol Guess and Lightsey Darst’s DANCE.

Virginia Konchan: In both of your recent books you explore the semiotics of fashion in different ways. In 1967, Barthes made the connection, in Elements of Semiology, between text and textiles, describing the text as an interwoven fabric of quotations drawn from culture, rather than from any single reading experience. Referring to textual production as a “garment system,” Barthes describes the act of speech as comprised by “all the phenomena of anomic fabrication” or of individual style—tracing the very origin of the word “text” to the Latin past participle texere, to weave or fabricate. The author’s successor, the scriptor, exists simultaneously with the text, not in a subject/predicate relationship, dislocating the text’s meaning to “language itself” and the effect on the reader.

From the punk band Glamour Kills to the relationship between fascism and fashion (a symbolic code too often replacing signification through speech or writing for women with a codified language—literalized through semaphores such as sex bracelets worn by middle-schoolers indicating what sex acts they perform, or a diamond ring signifying a woman’s unavailability as well as cultural “worth”), the idea that “clothes make the man” takes us to the metonymic conflation, in “polite society” between a well-dressed or spoken individual and his or her character.

Can you speak to the semiotics of fashion (as a signifying system) in your two books, which present female speakers with various degrees of agency, as well as to silencing? I’m especially curious how you relate the semiotics of DANCE, Lightsey (la geste rather than logos, as signifier) to female agency.

Lightsey Darst: When I went to make hell (the first section of the book), I turned to what I had at hand. I was interested in making an attractive hell, a seductive hell, a baroque and beautiful hell, and so I went for what makes me feel a really nasty appetite: fashion. Somewhere along the way, though, I started to think about fashion not as an inherently cruel system, but more as an amoral growth formed in reaction to other cruel systems. So fashion may be nasty, but also redemptive—as when a woman remembers what she wore for the last time that she saw her beloved, remembers how she concealed or revealed or altered her body, how she made herself appear. And appearances are realities. Local glamour. Alteration of air.

Kristina Darling: That’s a great question. When writing X Marks the Dress, my collaborator and I were especially interested in exploring the ways that culture is historically sedimented, particularly the various rituals and etiquettes associated with weddings. The book takes the form of a bridal registry, with each poem named for an item on such a list. Carol and I sought to evoke the myriad ways that contemporary beliefs, desires and sexualities don’t fit within such a heteronormative framework. Just as the book creates a discontinuity between form and content, the identities of the characters don’t conform to established gender categories, particularly since these identities question, blur and ultimately reject these categories.

Read more »

Extra Pages

Photos on flickr