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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.

Read more on The Sun and Moon Here 

 

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Dolphin Aria/Limited Hours: A Love Song by Luke McMullan Now Available!

 Luke McMullan is prising the nails out of the lyric and holding it ethically accountable for any passivity that might lurk in its corridors. This is a call to occupy, to resist the feasting and destruction. As 'we all dance the liberty frogmarch', he reprocesses the responsibilities of speculating and creating the spectacle of consumer lives. What stuns in this sequence is the performative quality of the work as it negotiates subtle moments of utterance and gesture. There's New York and 'Memphis', but even the oral inheritance/subtext of The Iliad with its ordnance and war dead. It's about adding up the costs. The angel investors are falling around us and the planet aches with opportunism. Capitalist adaptations come unstuck, thwarted by their own expense accounts. At once jagged and smooth, there's delicacy in this confrontation with personal and collective responsibility that can take one's breath away. One of the most intelligent poets writing anywhere, McMullan also has great technical facility and can keep us poised on the edge of the disaster he carefully articulates, and in which we are all culpable — he does this in the hope that we might see and act. This poet will change things for the better.

— John Kinsella

 
 
 

Luke McMullan is a PhD student at New York University, writing on language and dialect strata in modernist long poems. Before that, he worked at a software company that crawled webpages for linguistic and lexical context, on which much of this poem is based. He studied English at Cambridge for three years, and hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This is his second book. His first chapbook, n, was put out by Wide Range (Cambridge, 2012). With Sophie Seita and Ian Heames, he runs the unAmerican Activities series, a live reading event in London and New York, and the New York Stock small press.

 
 
 
 

Book Information:

· Paperback: 36 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-188-7

$12

 
 
 

Dolphin Aria:Limited Hours- A Love Song by Luke McMullan Book Preview

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Requited by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed on Drunken Boat

 

Leaving Their Roses Behind 

Reviewed by Carlo Matos 

When a pair of doomed lovers wanders a garden, as they do in the very
first prose poem of Kristina Marie Darling’s Requited, it’s hard not to cast
them in the roles of Adam and Eve, the original doomed pair of the
Christian tradition. “We walk to a rose garden in the dead of winter,”
says our heroine, which suggests the garden may have already gone
through its postlapsarian transformation, trapped as it is in “a season
[that] never changes.” They stroll in a garden where the ivy is dead and
the only cherubs about are made of ice-cracked stone. Right from the
start, we sense the relationship, like the statues, is fracturing. “There
are always so many things that can go wrong in a conversation,” says
our speaker, which on the surface of things is a wonderfully simple way
of describing how relationships often miss the mark, but it also has to be
the most understated way of describing the ultimate failure of logos in
the first paradise—a series of catastrophic conversations between
YHWH, the couple, and the pesky serpent.

And like their Biblical counterparts, they too must eventually leave
the garden: “The way out of the garden is simple. I let go of your hand
and climb over a chain link fence.” The way out, of course, is always
simple; it’s the way back in that is challenging like the walled garden
of Milton’s paradise protected by warlike archangels with flaming
swords. Milton’s couple walks hand-in-hand east of Eden, but for
Darling’s couple to find their way out, they must simply break their grip
and make the climb alone.

Read the whole review here 

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Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow Reviewed on Prick of the Spindle

Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow

BlazeVOX [books], 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60964-082-8
Paperback, 146 pp., $16
Review by Marie Loeffler

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
—from “Song of Myself” (1892 version) by Walt Whitman

A celebration of humanity seems to circumscribe Bill Yarrow’s poetic style, his artistic curiosity drawn out in phrases that take common experiences, elevating them into all-encompassing—possibly best described as worldly—perspectives on existence. Yarrow is bold as he juxtaposes complex images and ideas, delving deeper than surface thinking on any given topic, while he explores a rich collection of diverse word meanings and themes. He utilizes a variety of poetic forms, as well, fusing the intricate human mind’s multifarious inner workings with humor, personality, and humility.

Yarrow most poignantly sings of the self in past reflections of personal journeys, describing such events with intense imagery and words that paint a poetic tableau of colors, scents, and tastes. Yarrow vividly recounts a vacation he took at a northern resort where

He was drawn to water…
Water of dangerous
hues of blue. More violet than the pale-faced palette
of the sky.

He follows this solid setting of his scene with a more serious philosophical reflection:

Water, the glue of contingent necessity.
Water, the stippled foundation of all foundational
philosophy. He looked into the watery eyes of the old
woman sitting next to him.

This excerpt is striking for many reasons: Yarrow’s play on the word “foundation,” the rhythm of the section with syllables that dance lightly on the tongue when spoken aloud, the repetition of “Water.” Due to all of these minute yet hardly insignificant nuances, the piece has not only a strong visual quality, but also a musical feel that is a pleasure to read. But this pleasure does not in any way make the poem trivial; the work is enhanced by the seriousness of Yarrow’s connection to the place and to the old woman he notices, who readers are invited to observe with the author in tandem—a prompt that randomly and miraculously connects everyone who participates in viewing this particular work. The entire vignette draws to a similarly mellifluous and soothing close with alliteration in syllables as smooth as the images Yarrow employs to give life to his thoughts:

The sun was disappearing over
Traverse City. There was nothing on the lake but a
faint sailboat and a shadowy gull…
The soft sounds of sunset had subsided into silence.
The black water infinitely resonant spoke a lasting vastness.

Read the whole review here
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Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling Now Available!

In Failure Lyric, Kristina Marie Darling captures, with an accuracy few have managed before her, the panicked numbness one feels at the end of a marriage. It is a book in which nothing moves and nobody changes, and yet the poems move together, and yet the people in the poems are changed by the movement of the poems—that is to say, although Failure Lyric tells the story of the end of a marriage, it tells that story not from the perspective of the people involved, but from the perspective of time itself, neither embodied nor personified, but just as it is, pushing and pulling on the people caught in the end of the marriage like the wake of a boat. This way of telling is Darling’s own, and it is miraculous.

—Shane McCrae, author of Forgiveness Forgiveness

"At the time the glass case was built, the specimen wasn't quite dead." Working the same way memory works, the way dreams work, the poems of Failure Lyric spiral around the death of a relationship like a pack of detectives. Shattered bottles, the envelope full of winter, the birds burying their dead, the wedding dress too heavy or worn by another, the burning orchids: each has its message. Kristina Marie Darling gives us a narrative in images both surreal and everyday that recur and accrete to evoke a sense of deep and irrevocable loss. It's impossible to read without feeling similarly moved.

—Janet Holmes, author of Humanophone

Kristina Marie Darling’s Failure Lyric begins and ends with erasures, but what remains is nothing short of captivating. Beginnings and endings are bound up in each other as the collection centers around a relationship that seems doomed from the start. Each line branches like an ice crystal into gorgeous imagery that mines the territory between life and death: gardens frozen in full bloom, birds buried in snow, a beloved haunted by the past. This hybrid collection of “failures” catalogs grief by fracturing the world – not to destroy it, but to let in light and make it beautiful.

—Kelly Magee, author of Body Language

 
 
 
 

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of nearly 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). 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.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 54 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-193-1

$12

 
  
 

Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling Book Preview

 

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