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Ghost | Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher reviewed!

 

Fjords Review, Ghost/ Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher

POETRY
GHOST/ LANDSCAPE
BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING AND JOHN GALLAHER

BlazeVOX Books (Feb. 14, 2016)
102 pages
ISBN 978-1609642402

 

June 24, 2016

 

Two people talking about the weather has never been so insightful or enlightening. Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher’s astounding Ghost / Landscape’s show that talking about the weather doesn’t have to be awkward filler. The book moves like poetry while still functioning as prose, and integrates a narrative, suspense, and an unrequited love story into one wonderful whole.

Leaping around in time, the book is divided into chapters, beginning in the midst of things and ending at the beginning with chapter one. Even more intriguing are the chapters named after an emotion or event. Among these are “The Chapter On Regret,” “The Chapter On Museums,” and “The Chapter On Houseguests.” Surprisingly specific, these chapters name their subjects; call them out even, as it becomes clear that the book is obsessed with the weight of names and titles. The speaker asks, “What is a conversation but an attempt to make sense of objects, to dig them out from beneath their seemingly endless names?” and continues on, “How could you call that darkened room nostalgia, as though naming something isn’t a kind of violence?”

In a blunt tone, the speaker builds the world, word-by-word, bringing it into being. Both by naming objects and then dispelling their title, Ghost / Landscape depicts an image, a setting, a landscape and then destroys it all together, creating something new out of its dust. In this narrative world, shattered glass and phantom music are the background of many scenes, a murder does or doesn’t happen, a ghost can quickly become, or perhaps always was, a birthday cake, and a parking lot is renamed “something springy, because we don’t really like parking lots all that much.”

Darling and Gallaher prove that something can become anything. Words are used as a grounding device in reality and then given a rebirth as something else entirely. The poets’ voices blend together magically, where topics are seamlessly shuffled around mid-phrase and the two voices disappear under one consistent tone. Teaching readers how to read the book, the speaker explains, “I’ve always had a fondness for the absurd. Like playing two radio stations at once.” This duality between themes and authors creates an interesting tension throughout, where every thought, feeling, and chapter feels both supported by its surroundings and disputed by what precedes or follows. 

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Ghost | Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher reviewed!

 

GHOST/LANDSCAPE BY KRISTINA MARIE DARLING
AND JOHN GALLAHER

BLAZEVOX, 2016; 102 PP
REVIEWED BY ANNE CHAMPION

On the back cover of Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher’s Ghost/Landscape, Allison Benis White says, “One measure of the potency of literature is that its strangeness forces the reader to change her world to incorporate it, or to leave her world and join the one the writer has created.” This perfectly encapsulates the experience of entering Darling and Gallaher’s prose poems.

I admit that the form of prose poetry often makes me expect narrative, and it’s the denial of that expectation that makes Ghost/Landscape a compelling, reader-centric experience. The collection begins on “Chapter Two,” trumping expectations by placing the reader on the sideline of a battle whose beginning or cause you can’t place, making the ensuing conflict as dizzying as a maze. The details render a domestic setting, but with apocalyptic imagery: “Now our train leaving the platform, another dead pigeon near the tracks” and “Not one painting on the walls, and not a single photograph in any of those boxes.” The absence of photos or art signal that there’s no past in tact in these poems, and the dead bird along the tracks gestures towards a decomposing future weighted down by terror.


Read the whole review here


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Women and Ghosts is reviewed in HERMENEUTIC CHAOS JOURNAL!!

Kristina Marie Darling’s new collection, Women and Ghosts, is billed as a book of essays; however, the book is an ambitious hybrid of lyric essay, literary criticism, poetry, and playwriting. Women and Ghosts is a stunning and spare account of the female characters in various Shakespearean plays partially written from the perspectives of the characters themselves—Ophelia, Cleopatra, Desdemona, and others. The other voices that make up the book include a critic, a playwright, actors, and a female speaker who seems to take on the persona of the contemporary poet herself. This contemporary speaker recounts a relationship where a man dominates her, and this story is multiplied back across all of Shakespeare’s female characters, which were of course in similar situations themselves. In other words—the chorus of female voices silencing, shouting, and stuffing this famous man’s words is impressive.

The book physically appears to be ghosted—most of the text is printed in a light grayscale that may be difficult for some to read. A few, fragile words rise to the surface of the page. Some phrases are crossed out, especially in the opening section, “Daylight Has Already Come” and the two later sections, “Essays on Production” and “Essays on Props.” Darling also keeps her favorite props close here in Women and Ghosts. Fans of her work from books like X Marks the Dress and Fortress will recognize the “good” silver, flowers, fine china, and lush John Singer Sargent-like fabrics, particularly described in women’s dresses, that dot this landscape.

Darling’s work owes a great deal to Jen Bervin's trailblazing book, Nets, a collection of erasure poems using the source text of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but Darling extends outward from this. Women and Ghosts shows us an author whose critical and creative sides meet at a rocky confluence. Aside from the critical sections, the book reads as part narrative and part performance. The duality exists most obviously in the “Women and Ghosts” section where Shakespearean scenes are summarized briefly and below, a different story is told in the footnotes. For example, the summary of Othello’s final scene simply reads, “Othello ends when Desdemona is smothered and left for dead.” However, in the footnote, the speaker wonders, “If I can act like a girl who just fell in love. Maybe then I will be able to speak” (29). This quote could be looked at as a summary of the summary. It’s conceivable that Desdemona would have this thought as her husband smothered her. It seems more likely, however, that the poet/speaker is channeling Desdemona in her own contemporary life.





 
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Women and Ghosts is reviewed by Lisa M. Cole

 

Kristina Marie Darling's s Women and Ghosts

The essential question in Kristina Marie Darling’s hybrid text Women and Ghosts is posed early on: “If a man turns his head in such a way, who or what is shattered?” As the book’s speaker addresses this quandary, we witness a subtle subversion of the patriarchy, and an upheaval of the male-dominated literary canon. I see the push and pull of a woman who “drowns under the weight of her own dress,” her femininity; her very existence. At the same time, she is reaching towards autonomy; an identity completely separate from the men who stifle her. The men portrayed here are violent and manipulative. The offer no trace of love. She is mired in a rape culture; she is being pitted against a society which does not value the female voice. She asks, “Why is there so much language, so many words I didn’t want.” She doubts the efficiency of language, but barrels ahead; embraces bravery, and speaks out regardless.  

She participates in a conversation spanning centuries with both real and imaginary women: the women reading this text, and the women in Shakespeare’s plays: Ophelia, Juliet etc. Especially pleasing for me is the fact that previous exposure to these texts enhances my experience, but the book is so delicately rendered as to be accessible to even those who have not read the plays.  
Read the whole review here
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Ghost | Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher Now Available!

 When Henry David Thoreau wrote “The stars are the apexes to what triangles,” I’m not so sure he had poetry collaborations in mind. And yet, when Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher say—though which one says it, or both, or none, I don’t know—“Soon we wonder why we’re both thinking about astronomy, and at exactly the same time,” I begin to see by a sidereal light that collaboration at its best may be no more than two poets far apart gazing up at the same star’s height, and what fills the triangle is the poem, otherwise known as art. These poems of “shared consciousness” make of individual life a jointly lived thing, so much so, that “we” hides in every “I” and “you.” These collaborative poems gather us into their intimate community, and once within these pages, we glimpse what poetry might long have tried to teach us: how it is we go about learning to think, learning to see, learning to feel together.

—Dan Beachy-Quick


One measure of the potency of literature is that its strangeness forces the reader to change her world to incorporate it, or to leave her world and join the one the writer has created. In this case, Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher's extraordinary domestic noir, GHOST / LANDSCAPE, creates both responses in me: transformation and relocation. Part of this book's wonderful strangeness, of course, arises from the nature of the collaboration between Darling and Gallaher, as their voices transform and relocate, blend and electrify into a single speaker (I, you, we) that longs for conversation: "I tried to phone you, but the snow went on for miles." This ache for articulation, for communion, is further complicated by the middle-class American ennui, dark humor, and matter-of-fact violence of the book. I finished GHOST / LANDSCAPE with the certainty that I have at least two voices, and one murder, inside me. This book will stay with me for a very long time.

—Allison Benis White


Too often coauthored poetry books feel more like exercises than true, vital collections. Not so with Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher’s GHOST / LANDSCAPE. These startling poems push against the boundaries of daily living through sustained attention and quiet articulation. “I’m busy looking at everything I’m looking at,” Darling and Gallaher assert in one poem; in another they say of the suburban landscape in which many of these poems are set, “We can lift it up from the edges and look underneath. It’s like looking into a mirror.” Often the worlds of these poems feel dreamlike, populated at the perimeter with the ghosts of past and present as we eavesdrop on the only living voices merging, ultimately, into one human voice. And though the poems can be playful and self-reflexive—as one would expect from these two terrific postmodern poets—ultimately this is an intimate and surprisingly unified book of big ideas: “We all think we’re having different lives, when really there’s only one life and we’re sharing it.”

—Wayne Miller


GHOST / LANDSCAPE reads like an intimate chat, except not the kind people have over tea. Maybe it's whiskey causing these emotional flare-ups ("They warned me about you"), these bouts of nostalgia ("You wake wondering where the antique chickens are"), these lamentations about lost love (count the number of missed phone calls throughout), these discomfiting confessions ("...I had always thought unhappiness would be easy"). The chemistry between these poets is electric; it lights up the page.

—Diana Spechler


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry and hybrid prose, including Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Ora Lerman Trust, and the Rockefeller Archive Center. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.

John Gallaher is the author of five books of poetry, Gentlemen in Turbans, Ladies in Cauls (2001), The Little Book of Guesses (2007), winner of the Levis Poetry Prize, Map of the Folded World (2009), Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (with G.C. Waldrep, 2011), and In a Landscape (2014), as well as two chapbooks, and two edited collections, The Monkey and the Wrench (with Mary Biddinger) and Time Is a Toy: the Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt (with Laura Boss). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, Boston Review, Chicago Review, and elsewhere. He lives in rural Missouri where he teaches and co-edits The Laurel Review.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 102 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-240-2

$16

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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