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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
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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.

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Morani Kornberg-Weiss interviewed in Rob Mclennan's Blog

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Morani Kornberg-Weiss

Morani Kornberg-Weiss was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and spent her early childhood in Southern California. After completing her military service, B.A. in Psychology and English, and the beginning of her graduate degree in Israel, she moved to Buffalo, NY to pursue a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo's Poetics Program. Her scholarship revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the lyric tradition. Her poetry has been published in multiple venues including The Last StanzaVoices IsraelGenius FlooredOmnia Vanitas Reviewkadar koli,eccolinguistics, and arc. Her Hebrew translation of Karen Alkalay-Gut’s Miracles & More was published by Keshev in 2012. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her partner, two cats, dog, and a lentil. 

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
My debut poetry book, Dear Darwish, is the outcome of a slow and complex process that lead to a shift in my historical, cultural, and political outlooks. In other words, the “change” occurred and the book was conceived as a result. 

I have spent my life moving back and forth between Israel and the U.S. When I started my Ph.D. in English/Poetics at SUNY Buffalo in 2009, I was exposed to a wide range of poetry that radically altered my writing practices. The book showcases the change in my writing “style.” I experiment with different forms, such as epistolary, prose-poetry, borrowed text, and longer, more sequential poems, since several poems naturally lend themselves to these forms. As Robert Creeley stated: "form is never more than an extension of content.” My poetry now feels “different” because I allow the poems to emerge in whatever form they need to be/come.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
When I look back at my childhood, it seems like I have always been writing poetry: jotting down words on paper, assembling lines along the margins of notebooks, and even hanging up a favorite poem in my bedroom in elementary school (“Warning” by Jenny Joseph). (Okay, I love the color purple too!) I started writing regularly during high school when I moved back to Israel and had to relearn Hebrew. I wrote poems in English while trying to immerse myself in an old-new language and culture. I don’t think I was ever aware that these were poems per se. Rather, I felt compelled to write about my life and my surroundings, and poetry became the outlet for recording those experiences.   

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

A project begins with an idea. Sometimes, I start working on a project right away. Other times it takes months and years for the ideas to evolve and for me to even become aware that there’s a “project” that can emerge out of them. Writing is a craft that seems to have a pace of its own (which can also be a source of great frustration when the projects are slow-going). In the end, every poem is treated as a separate entity: some require heavy revision (or are left out entirely) and others only require subtle changes or none at all. 

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
I think it’s a little bit of both. I am often preoccupied with a few major issues and end up writing poems about them. The poems, in retrospect, can then be compartmentalized into book projects revolving around one major theme. But all of my poems begin with a thought, one so overbearing that I am (unknowingly) made aware of my own cognitive thought processes and begin to write – a word, a line, a stanza – that might potentially evolve into a poem. I’ve been practicing the art of being mindful when this occurs. 

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings? 
Poetry, for me, is first and foremost a communal endeavor (even when it occurs in isolation between writer-reader-book). I love attending as well as participating in readings. I have met many great friends and writers through these shared spaces. I am open to the possibility of letting other people’s words and languages seep into my own creative thought processes and therefore always have my notebook and pen in hand. Reading my work allows me to share my poems through my voice and my body in ways that do not exist on the page alone. The poems become alive (or I give them a particular “life” depending on my tone and mood at the moment). Plus, it’s nice to get feedback from friends and/or strangers, especially when I have worked on a project for so long. 

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I am currently completing my doctorate, which focuses on the lyric tradition, transnationalism, and Israeli and Palestinian relations. Several poems located in Dear Darwish were written as a result of my research. I consider my creative and scholarly endeavors as part of one larger project in which I examine questions of memory, nationalism, and trauma; I aim at understanding how particular memories and cultural practices are shaped and later perpetuated. Poetry becomes an alternative space where I can challenge the values that I “naturally” inherited. I’m not sure if there are specific questions that I ask; rather, the entire book is a collection of several possible answers. 

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
For me, personally, poetry is a form of activism. I think language is charged, multi-layered, and political; the act of writing, therefore, is a dynamic process where writer and world interact in meaningful ways. Poets, as Shelley puts it, “are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” I would like to think we are acknowledged and that part of the beauty and magic of poetry (and writing in general) is that we never know what seeds we plant in our readers’ minds and when those seeds will emerge as new modes of thinking and experiencing the world. I think the writer should just write, share, read, write more, and share again. Although we do not always have the privilege of defining our own roles as writers, we can, at least, define the type of poems we wish to create and disseminate. 
READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW HERE
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Vow by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed in The Rumpus!

 

VOW BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING

REVIEWED BY 

VowIn The Bell Jar, Plath’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood, eschews expectations of marriage for writing, growing more and more disconnected from the other young women interns with her at the New York City fashion magazine. So Kristina Marie Darling’s poetry and prose unveils the stereotypes and double-standards embedded in our culture that make marriage imprisoning for many women. Given her history of experimentation with form, it is not surprising that her two most recent books, Vow and Music for another life., act in concert with each other and with the other literary works resisting these prescribed roles in works that incorporate both prose and poetry.

Vow is a book length poem that re-constructs (though incompletely) the remnants of a story, a treatise of vows, and the end of a marriage. Though easiest classified as poetry, it is the kind of writing that resists form as much as the voice in the book resists the constraints of marriage. In the first and main section of the book, “Vow,” we find what seems to be a story with narrative gestures seen in the prose blocks of text that begin with narrative syntax such as “I had always imagined the day” and “But before long, we’ll enter the house” However, as the first line asks “What does a white dress not resemble?” we may ask how does this not resemble story or poem. After all, the majority of this poem/story is filled with a sort of poetic negative space where footnotes and “marginalia” annotate empty pages. With this text, Darling tells and retells a story, recycling images of shattered glass, white dresses, a house without an exit, a house that can only be escaped through burning. Are these the ashes of that house, that marriage?

As it deconstructs the institution of marriage, so Vow also documents the construct, in the aftermath, of the poem itself. There are three appendices to the book and, in between them, “Endnotes to a History of Brides.” These sections act as commentary, supplement, and evidence for the first section. “Marginalia” contains more footnotes (this time numbered) to more blank pages. However, along with “Endnotes to a History of Brides,” rather than continuing the story, the notes seem to give background commentary, much as one might find in the commentary version of a movie, such as “This silver dagger was most often used for opening letters” or a direction for the reenactment of the story not told in the first part: “The film follows its heroine as she photographs the scorched altar….” This commentary adds context and a more distanced perspective to the story that “Vow” attempts to tell. Both are explanations for something that cannot be explained: why a marriage ends.

READ THE WHOLE REVIEW HERE

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Fantasias in Counting by Sophie Seita is Now Available!

Fantasias in Counting by Sophie Seita is Now Available!

 

  

Sophie Seita’s Fantasias in Counting furthers an evolving, intense and remarkable body of work with performative textuality, spatiality and ethics of presence. Her poetry and poetics test the very limits of prosody; her theatrics work the defamiliarised into the known: a fantasia of the writer’s making defaulting into non-ownership. Rhythm and its predications and failures are central to ‘speech’. Seita writes: ‘[Begins to play a rhythm on or with scattered sounding-material—whatever is available. Ideally, this is a polyrhythm or cross-rhythm, either 4:3 or 5:3, or even better 4/4 : 4/3 or 2/5 : 2/3 or something of that kind; over the repeatedly spoken phrases: no I cannot; no you cannot (ad lib with pleasure)].’ The rhythm becomes word becomes the ‘theatre’ itself. At first experience a viewer, a reader, a fly on the wall, might undergo the epiphany of the ‘new’. But in Seita’s melding of ancient and modern performative techniques, her investing the moment of articulation with an awareness of the social and political constraints it operates within, we actually start to question what is ‘new’. Rather, we might apply to her work something akin to Stravinsky’s observation that Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge was ‘absolutely contemporary’ and would remain ‘contemporary forever’. Sophie Seita is one of a handful of brilliant ‘new’ poets and performance-enhancers who are changing and will continue to change how we receive and resist the ‘limits’ of poetic form and performative spatiality. She creates texts that are investigative and synaesthetic. When we read ‘my theory is better than my praxis’, the irony ripples through the manuscript, because rarely do the metronome, the drum beat, the tones of voice resonate so strongly. The page becomes the acoustically desirable space, with all attendant ironies and wit. Character and writer are of no fixed address. Sophie Seita is a writer of genius who will never stay still, who will constantly work the boards in ways as yet unimagined. Watch, listen, and be changed.

—John Kinsella

Appearing in the drag of scale exercises, wrought and precise conceptual variations, and playful improvisation, the performance scores in Sophie Seita’s Fantasias in Counting might cause their readers/audiences to wonder whether they’re clothed or nude. Yet the pleasure of these works is their refusal—tartly apropos our digital times—of such binary codings: countable v. mass nouns, wholes v. parts, the one v. multiples, original v. proxy, integer v. fraction, feigned v. felt, and, perhaps most importantly, repetition v. difference. For while Seita’s jargonate arias may instrumentalize the count of the metronome, they also “ambivalize” to reach an “acchord” or “communichord”; remaining unaccountable to a beat, they transmogrify uniform temporal divisions into the bumpy, opaque spacing of socio-linguistic relations. In Steinian tradition (“a craving so little as that like as if it (then) would be then it would be simple. simple and countable. more simply countable. a slice please. much cream.”), Fantasias in Counting effects, against the preterit, new performative grammatical modes: “cannot be counted, only done,” “practised, not counted.” Likewise, the book forges forced ways of being among languages: Seita does not just notice how “lots of words sound like other words” but stages language in states of “hyperarousal,” finding, for instance, an opera within an opera by unfolding a narrative spelled by its paratextual musical directives cum characters: “Po may be generally slow or fast at wasp-speed.” “The subversive subject has lost. Now only irrational measures,” Seita writes, but perhaps that subject is not so much lost as distributed both within and without itself, just as protagonistic or quantifiable models of action have here fissured into mischievous, disturbing agencies, even the agency of aporia. Here’s more than “A little ‘hey’ for true mathematics”: “Please take some time with this line.”

—Judith Goldman


Sophie Seita writes poetry, performance texts, short plays, and translates contemporary German poetry. She makes videos and performs in the UK, Germany, and New York. Her work has appeared in various magazines in the UK and US and her first chapbook 12 Steps was published by Wide Range (Cambridge) in 2012. A collaborative artist book with Anna Moser is forthcoming. She co-organises the unAmerican Activities Transatlantic Reading Series, a simultaneous live reading series between NYC and Cambridge/London. Her doctoral research focuses on experimental poetry and poetics, as well as the formation, dissolution and self-definition of literary communities in avant-garde periodicals, correspondence, and ephemera.

 


Book Information:

· Paperback: 82 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-172-6

$16

 
 

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Photos on flickr