A Glimpse into our Alien World: Susan Lewis and This Visit
Astonishment. Astonishment and an extensive exploration of language through the masterful use of rhyme and alliteration makes Susan Lewis’ eighth poetry collection This Visit both a tremendously enjoyable and challenging book to read. When her speakers demand, “Admit you would play dead. / Permit me to seed red // lest we strut and preen / & prophecy . . .” (15), the audience pays attention, if only for the beautiful arrangement. But there is much more to this volume than music and word play. The poet’s 857 couplets provide the reader with tantalizing clues as how we interact with each other and the surrounding world.
The basic, in fact the only, unit of construction in This Visit is the couplet, appearing occasionally in variant forms. This fact raises significant questions for several reasons, not the least of which is what or whom do these constructs represent? Chromosomes? Noah’s menagerie? Lovers? Pilot/co-pilot? Mentor/protégé? Whatever the case, Lewis ensures the poems reflect two viewpoints: incisive, cogent, sometimes contradictory, and always worth hearing.
Dismantling Categories of Thought: A Conversation Between Kristina Marie Darling & Sarah Vap
KMD: I've truly enjoyed reading all three of your books, and was intrigued by the dream-like quality of the poems in Arco Iris. They seem at once ethereal and carefully grounded in concrete imagery, rendering everyday things (like coffee, used electronics, and the sky above) suddenly and wonderfully strange. Along these lines, many of the poems take place in an unnamed tropical location, which for the reader, is both anywhere and nowhere, a tangible place place and a psychological one. With that in mind, I'd love to hear your thoughts about the relationship between travel, the literary arts, and the human psyche. What does travel make possible within your writing practice? And within conscious experience?
SV: That's interesting. I don't think of Arco Iris as dreamlike or unspecific. It's actually named a few times as South America-- many regions in South America-- a continent my partner and I traveled for a few months about nine years ago. The book is, in my experience of it and my intentions for it, a kind of anti travel-poetry. Or a rejection of the trope of travel (especially of the white traveler going to a brown place to have a "writing experience" or to buy themselves an authentic transformational experience or etc.). It is a book in which I can't write or think myself out of a scenario in which my movement in the world (as a white American, especially) is not complicit with neoliberal violence and/or globalism and its many layers and types and shades of (economic, racial, political, physical...) violences. I wonder if the ethereal experience you had of it was what I felt to be the spellcasting of capitalism--you try to say something against capitalism, it is immediately appropriated as a product of capitalism (and neutralized?), ad infinitum.
But along those lines, after having read your Music for another life and Vow-- I'd love to ask--what do the ethereal, the dreamlike, the bride, and the book mean for you in those collections? And perhaps related, do you understand or do you think through your work on a book-by-book level, or a poem-by-poem level, or as a group of books together, or...?
This is a whole lot of trending for Kristina Marie Darling. She is this weeks blogger at the Best American Poetry website and we’ll be posting her articles all week long. Here is the first:
February 02, 2015
Formal Innovation & Textual Rupture: A Conversation Between Kristina Marie Darling & Tony Trigilio [by Kristina Marie Darling]
Kristina Marie Darling: Your new book, The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 1, offers readers an extended engagement with 1960s mass culture, exploring the myriad ways that television and radio shape the individual consciousness. This idea that culture determines what is possible within thought, and within the human mind, is gracefully enacted in the content of the poems, which appear as pristine couplets. I'm intrigued, though, by moments when the form is broken, and the poems deviate from the pattern that has been established. As the writer, how do you know when a form should be broken? What does breaking form make possible within the content of your work?
Tony Trigilio: Thanks so much for your detailed reading of the book. My hope is that, as you mentioned, readers can identify with the ways mass media and individual consciousness shape each other in the book. As I get deeper into Vol. 2 of the Dark Shadows project (about half-finished with the second volume now), I gain a deeper appreciation of mass media's roots in the verb "to mediate." I realize the connection is obvious: but it's one thing to experience media/mediation intellectually, and an entirely different thing to experience it psychically and viscerally. Like all of us, the development of my own psyche was mediated by electronic communication—for me, it was television and radio, and for folks growing up now, it's digital media. It just so happens that the mediating force for me was a kitschy vampire and all the nightmares he caused me (though I was way too young to understand he was kitschy). As scary as the continual nightmares were, they did introduce me to the power of dream and to the idea that dream-reality is as vital and real as waking-reality.
Read the whole interview here: http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2015/02/formal-innovation-textual-rupture-a-conversation-between-kristina-marie-darling-tony-trigilio-by-kri.html
A review and interview about Scorched Altar in Up the Staircase Quarterly.
And finally here is new interview at Rob McClennan's Blog:
Hurray!Read more »