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Leah Umansky interviewed in the New School Blog



Leah Umansky, poet, writer and curator / host of COUPLET: a poetry and music series (and regular in Patricia Carlin‘s poetry workshop in The New School’s Continuing Education Program) shows us all there is in love and unlove, that Don Draper makes a compelling muse, that we are our own heroines (or heroes, as the case may be), and that we should really, really care about poetry.

 Read the Whole Review Here  

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Brushes with, by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed on Poet Hound


Kristina Marie Darling's Brushes With

Kristina Marie Darling strikes again with creating a surreal and memorable journey through her particular style of writing in Brushes With, a collection that captures a romance that is no longer, scenes and footnotes that entice and leave the reader curious and wanting more. The works themselves provide enticing instances of foreshadowing for the doomed relationship. Darling contrasts light and dark, physical space versus the words inside one’s mind, memories and imagery delicately entwine. Below I am happy to share some samples:


We were no longer in love. The sky, too, was beginning to show its wear. A silk lining could be seen through every slit in the dark green fabric. 1
I started to wonder where we went wrong. You were holding a map of the constellations.2 Each of the minor stars had been assigned to a square on a little grid. The map seemed scientific so I approached you.3
You kept looking down at your compass. The needle spinning beneath a little screw. Maybe this is where we went wrong.
Above us, the sky is still wearing its green dress. The most delicate strings holding it all in place.

1. The photographs portray this dress as one of the most violent manifestations of the heroine’s femininity.
2. At the edge of the map, she could discern a cluster of minor stars. Their incessant movement seemed difficult to comprehend, let alone to document.
3. “I had wanted to understand the cause of this fearful disturbance. Within my compass the needle kept spinning and spinning.”

*I apologize that my footnotes’ numbers do not appear like they should, that is the limitation of trying to transfer her work to a blog post. I will say that I love how she creates her text and ties footnotes to them, along with pages of just footnotes. In this piece the overwhelming darkness and the avoidance of eye contact depicts a couple avoiding each other even while present in each other’s lives. The comparison of the sky to dark green fabric with silk lining is romantic and delicate, so delicate that strings hold it in place and threaten to smother the couple should the fabric break free. Whether that was the meaning behind Darling’s piece I do not know, I only know that it is how I picture it for myself. Darling is a master at creating a visually stimulating piece weighted with more emotion than you initially read into. 
Read the whole review here
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Boston Review Microreviews Counting Sheep Until Doomsday by Carlo Matos

Boston Review Microreviews Counting Sheep Until Doomsday by Carlo Matos


Microreview: Counting Sheep Until Doomsday, Carlo Matos

September 11, 2013
Counting Sheep Till Doomsday
by Carlo Matos
BlazeVOX Books, $16 (paper)


The prose poems in Carlo Matos’s second collection engage questions about the nature of free will: How does one discern fate from one’s choices? To what extent will one’s life be circumscribed by the actions of others? Amidst all of this, what is the purpose of violence? As the book unfolds, answers to these questions multiply, suggesting the impossibility of claiming such knowledge. For example, Matos writes at the beginning of a sequence called “Fate*,” “You’re gonna’ go out. You’re gonna’ start a fight with a bear, and you’re gonna’ lose.” These sentences imply at first that one is capable of discerning fate from freely made choices. Perhaps more importantly, Matos suggests that this knowledge manifests through an engagement with language. The sequence shatters these initial expectations as the poet re-inscribes the same images with myriad possibilities for interpretation. Language becomes unstable, equivocal. He writes, “Elija asked god to send she-bears to tear the teeth from the children who mocked him bald—so many stones pulling the skulls.” Here Matos revisits the bears, imbuing them with a religious dimension not present before, and the bears become a figure for providence.

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Brushes with, by Kristina Marie Darling discussed on Open Salon


 'Visitation' by Noah Saterstrom (2012)

Brushes With by Kristina Marie Darling. Published Blazevox Books, 2013

Raising the Object to Fetish Item In Brushes With by Kristina Marie Darling

There are eight major poems in Brushes With which treat of the loss of love. These are titled Cartography, Feminism, Spectacle, Landscape, Antarctica , Migration, Utopia and Martyrdom. The major poems are juxtaposed with footnotes which run the gamut of the text.

I subtitled this response to the text of Brushes With; Raising The Object To Fetish Item, because the objects within the body of the work function as load-bearing major symbols that carry the narrative. None more so than Darling's use of the footnote in the body of the entire text.

In Darling's narrative the footnote acts as driver to and anchor of the poems that I have listed above. The footnote also acts as subverter to the poet's own voice through increasingly exteriorising and encapsulating her emotional pitch in a series of objects: the star-map, the headless statue, the ripped dress, the violet nightdress, the burnt meadow, and the burnt room. The interior objects that belong in the ruined house have gained a steely patina that gleam beneath glass, or are hidden beneath wood.

What the reader is presented with here is a major narrative and its attendant subtext which refuses to run parallel with the text, but instead ducks and hides to be taken up by the poet at a later point in the work. There is no tension between narrative and subtext. Their relation is symbiotic , one cannot be read without the other and the use of subtext/footnote is carefully controlled throughout.

The most obvious Darling symbol herein and one that I should return to is that of the dress which occurs in the very first footnote and is repeated in a variety of forms throughout the book. However, there is a buried symbol in Brushes With which I felt took on quite gargantuan symbolic proportion and that is the image I have chosen to look at for the purpose of this reading. The image of thebroken statuette. The porcelain statuette first occurs in the poem  Feminism.


    'You had always loved mementoes. Once you'd even rented

    a small boat to find your missing porcelain statuette. ˆ


    I started to wonder what other gifts you'd leave behind .

    The dried insects I'd find in each of your letters.


   I closed the cabinet door, counted each piece of shattered

   glass, and tried to imagine them all in your perfect white hands.'


   from, Feminism by Kristina Marie Darling


^ 18. 'This statue of the Holy mother would later be found headless in a tiny museum in northern France.'

^63 (p 44) 'Upon seeing the smoke rising, she could barely speak. The little statue lost as the entire roof caved in before them.'

^45. (P  35) ' The girls in these statues are always martyrs: drowned Ophelia, the Holy Mother, Jeanne D'Arc.  Day after day the same shattered porcelain hands. '

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Big Bad Asterisk*  by Carlo Matos reviewed in The Iowa Review

Big Bad Asterisk* by Carlo Matos reviewed in The Iowa Review


Review by: 

 Kristina Marie Darling

Book coverIn Carlo Matos's stunning third book of poetry,Big Bad Asterisk, readers will find "science projects," Jeopardy matches, and "the blood of princes." It is Matos's ability to seamlessly weave together vastly different points of view that makes his work so compelling. Presented as an ongoing series of annotated prose pieces, much of the work in this formally inventive collection reads as a conversation between different characters, as well as a dialogue between different facets of consciousness. For Matos, all writing, thinking, and living is a collaborative act, an idea that is gracefully enacted in the form of the poems themselves. 

With that in mind, Matos's use of formal citations is especially noteworthy. Frequently using annotations to problematize the main text, rather than to explain or clarify its meaning, he presents an innovative text that privileges process over product. Matos envisions writing as a practice in which hypotheses are tested, observations about the world are called into question, and eventually refined, perfected. It is through the presentation of multiple points of view, both in the world and within the self, that we come closer to the truth. Consider this passage:

They needed someone who punished without judgment, who served the moment, and staked the next round.*

*A recent study concluded that although there had been a drastic increase in references to copulation with farm animals in popular media, actual incidence of the fact had been in steep decline since the late 1800s.

Here Matos juxtaposes everyday speech with the rhetoric of science and weighs the two perspectives against one another. His work is at its best when disparate voices, points of view, and epistemologies are presented as coeval, and the reader is allowed to glean insights from all, while committing to none. It is through this presentation of myriad perspectives without strict adherence to a single worldview that Matos suggests we gain the greatest insight. The dialogic form of the work enacts this very idea, as the reader is asked to sort through science, myth, and popular culture, taking with her the most valuable for her purposes. 

Read the whole review here

Take a closer look at Carlo's work here

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