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Archive for May 2015

The Sun & the Moon by Kristina Marie Darling Reviewed at the Iowa Review

Kristina Marie Darling’s new book The Sun & The Moon takes up the metaphor of celestial bodies to contemplate the movement of the bodies of two lovers as they move through the space of their lives. To illustrate the astronomical importance of her undertaking, Darling’s Appendix A offers three illustrations of two famous astronomical clocks. These clocks “show the relative location of the sun and the moon,” as well as planets and constellations. Though these other minor heavenly bodies make an appearance, it is the story of the sun and moon’s relationship to each other where Darling focuses her light.      

The long poem “The Sun & The Moon” consists of numbered prose poems and presents a teleological narrative that is signaled sometimes as one day, a calendar year, or several years of celestial orbit. Darling signals chronology by adopting the numbering system of the illustrated clocks, presenting twenty-two poems and a narrative that follows the seasonal changes created by sunlight received. Darling’s book is also a teleological narrative of a marriage, from the initial first night of the wedding party to a last night after the husband’s departure. In the poem, the speaker watches her party burn, contemplates what her husband brings to their union, and catalogs her own acquiesces to what she witnesses with a scientific, detached horror. Though she “did what she could to keep the house from burning,” she acknowledges that “sometimes things go wrong at parties.” This narrative suggests that couples lack complete power to direct a relationship’s arc, despite herculean efforts. The Sun & The Moon is the wife’s story. Blame and fault is cast on the husband, who “had an odd way of showing affection” and leads in an army of ghosts who polished knives, watched them, took notes, and eventually drove them apart. The husband is also the one who tends the fires and shakes an “empty wine bottle in the air.” Though the wife blames the husband for his destructive role, she owns her complicity. She loves him, says it’s a marriage of “practicality,” one which only began when “we decided we’d generate our own heat.” She admits, “It’s the strangest things that keep me from leaving.” Though the husband/sun leaves, the wife/moon ends the relationship by starting the fire, an act that surprises even the ghosts. Darling writes, “It’s safe to say they didn’t expect me to light the first match.” Like clocks that trace time, teleological narratives posit a beginning and an end, and both remind us to see time, and here, marriage, as linear. Marriage is built with an anticipated end.

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Kristina Marie Darling interviewed at The Collagist

 

An Interview-in-Excerpts with Kristina Marie Darling

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014 (BlazeVOX Books, 2014).  Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation.  She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

An excerpt from her book, "The Arctic Circle," appeared in Issue Sixty-Five of The Collagist. 

Here, she answers questions in the form of excerpts from The Artic Circle. 

What is writing like?

I hold out the smallest parcel, show him its frozen worlds.  

What isn’t writing like?

His last wife.

When you do it, why?

I did it because he told me not to.

When you don’t, why?

I have trouble controlling the shaking in both my hands.    

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Dangerous Things To Please a Girl by Travis Cebula Now Available!

Reading Travis Cebula’s engaging, dynamic new collection of poems Dangerous Things To Please a Girl, I am reminded of Michelle Naka Pierce speaking of intimacy across vast distances, the way language connects or longs, as here Travis Cebula’s travelogue poems stretch their tender tendrils out towards their listener, at once Angel, the addressee, and the reader, seeking a home, a location, a connection. As the book concludes, as we turn to the last page, we too keep on “turning. closer and closer” like the boy in this final poem—thus, in reading this book, we edge towards one another, and away, passengers in a life, a city. Cebula’s Paris is highly reminiscent of Frank O’Hara’s New York—a lively space to roam and reflect, to observe and to touch. Punctuated, like days, by grocery lists (often of the French clichés—picking up croissants or cheese and wine—) the original experiences of the speaker stand in stark contrast to the generic items purchased, accentuating a universal location of individuality in a world that often appears to have absorbed all our uniqueness in errand running, getting by or even global cosmopolitanism. The history of the city—literary and otherwise—serves as backdrop to this contemporary struggle to define and write the self, that self asking why it goes on going on, into the city, society, the weft and wane of existence, as the narrator—observing a pedestrian—asks of that other as much as of himself: “is it divine purpose or a madness older than trees, Angel, that prods this lone human to stride into traffic again”. A charming, delightful read, this collection of poems allows us to stroll with Cebula, to see his Paris while it invites us to reflect on the world through his eyes.

—Jennifer K. Dick, author of Circuits (2013)

A man wanders through Paris. A man wanders through Eliot. Eliot wanders through Paris. Paris wanders through the man. And, not surprisingly, it all comes out as a love letter. Though addressed to a missing person, these poems have no absence about them at all. Instead, built of the fine detail of daily life, they exude a vivid presence that coalesces into a richly nuanced sense of place, of place-as-lived. And it’s a good life. And an utterly delightful book.

—Cole Swensen, author of Stele (2012)

Travis Cebula’s collection Dangerous Things to Please a Girl contains intimate epistolary poems in which the speaker addresses his beloved during a stay in Paris. Reaching across and beyond this marvelous city, the collection reflects on a tourist’s solitude. Lines from TS Eliot’s oeuvre serve as titles for all the poems, reminding us that as readers we are part of a meditative experience—one intensified by the senses. Sensory snapshots—the smells, tastes, sounds, sights, and textures of Paris—create a feeling of familiarity that echoes the devotion of the speaker to his “Angel.” Choose a place at “cast iron tables / in the sun or in the shade.” Slide past Pigalle’s sex shops. Linger with global citizens from Armenia and Albania under Le Tour Eifel. Lunch with jeunes filles, backs pressed against the tombstones of Père Lachaise. Run vicariously through children on the wet granite slabs of the Pompidou to the sound of Edith Piaf’s voice. With Cebula, we move through Paris like Stein, Apollinaire, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway did before us—threading our way through the city of love and lights—“given lines / of poetry about bliss in alleys. / about how we kiss. the swift turns /up top. the swift turns, and drops.”

—Deborah Poe, author of the last will be stone, too (2013)

Here one reads about lowering the blinds and eating three peaches over a sink in the dark, on a hot summer afternoon. You will find such a treat, if you open this book: it is both excessive and essential, polite yet feral, a commanding, casual feast. What a tasty guide to Paris. I admire the closely observed interactions, weird ecosystems, shopping lists, moments of aching beauty, clashes of earthbound and aerial intelligences, and the light yet sure step of the lines. There is also much food for the soul.

—Jonathan Skinner, author of Birds of Tifft (2011)


TRAVIS CEBULA lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and trusty dogs, where he writes, edits, and teaches creative writing. He is the author of five full-length collections of poetry, four of which have been released by BlazeVOX Books—including Dangerous Things to Please a Girl. As such, he is most grateful for Geoffrey Gatza and the tremendous things Geoffrey does for the world of poetry.

In June you can find Travis teaching with the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, France.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 164 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-186-3

$16

 
 
 

Dangerous Things to Please a Girl by Travis Cebula Book Preview

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Photos on flickr