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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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Review of Petrarchan by Kristina Marie Darling at Word Riot

Review of Petrarchan by Kristina Marie Darling at Word Riot


Petrarchan by Kristina Marie Darling

Review by Carlo Matos
Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrarchan—her second collection from BlazeVOX [books]—takes on the sonnet sequence of the reverend, forlorn lover of the Western literary canon, Francesco Petrarca. Darling, although she admits to admiring Petrarch, was drawn to the Renaissance sonnets because of the problematic object position of the beloved, Laura. As she says in an interview with Lightsey Darst at Word Riot,
there was more of a “thesis” than with my previous projects. I love Petrarch’s work, but it’s so problematic for me as a female reader. His writing, perhaps more than any other one person’s work, has been associated with the male gaze, the silenced beloved, and various master narratives about what love should or ought to be.
Laura is the silent other par excellence, utterly and completely contained by the male gaze, and this is what draws Darling to the text. In my opinion, her erasures, her abandoned footnotes, and her appendices are perfectly suited for the kind of deconstruction evident in the text. She has shown us, in previous books, how versatile these devices can be as poetic forms, but in engaging one of the urtexts of Western poetics, she really demonstrates how powerful they can be at resituating subject and object, viewer and viewed.

At the beginning of the book, we find ourselves in familiar Darling territory—a nineteenth-century woman roaming around a house that is alternately described as a maze, an island, or like a mahogany armoire: “Within every box . . . only compartment after compartment.” For example, the phrase “house by the sea” is repeated five times throughout the manuscript and is referenced obliquely several more times. With each repetition, what might traditionally be considered a bucolic image, of course, only becomes increasingly oppressive—the prison with lace curtains. However, what makes Petrarchan unique in Darling’s oeuvre is that the ensnared heroine—ensnared by love, by convention, by an overmastering heap of love tokens—does not allow the situation to be the whole story. In her previous collection, Melancholia, for instance, the heroine could be described as a collector—a hoarder—slowly being buried in her home by all the mementos of the missing lover—the literal and figurative presence-in-absence of the beloved smothering her life. However, the heroine of Petrarchan is also using the enforced isolation to experiment in alchemy:

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a terrific review of Petrarchan by Kristina Marie Darling, just published in Sein und Werden!


Petrarchan by Kristina Marie Darling is a strange ghost of a book.  The first six sections tell the story of a love affair in footnotes to an invisible text.  At the bottom of each page we find fragments that provide clues to what has been elided; references, definitions, translations, quotes, expansions and explanations, all haunted by the white space above: 

2. She described their exchange as a "staircase burning in a locked house."  When asked, she would list each of the possessions she had lost in the fire. (19)

This house recurs throughout the notes, a series of "rooms opening inside a single room."  Inside the rooms there are cabinets, jewellery boxes, locked armoires, and within them, 'an assortment of disconcerting love tokens' (27), or nothing at all, 'only compartment after compartment' (19).  Secrets within secrets, nestled like Russian dolls, meanings glimpsed from the corner of an eye, the deferral of understanding underscored with the repeated use of the phrase 'only then…'

10. The smallest disturbance seemed to devastate the ocean's pristine shore.  Only then did they determine that the city had in fact been built around an inland sea. (15)

3. "Only then did I understand why the key to his armoire remained hidden from view.  Within every box, I found only compartment after 
compartment." (19)

3. "Only then did I understand the meaning of 'reverence.' Our house began to murmur with tiny silver bells," (25)

The latter sections of the book, Appendix A: Correspondence and Appendix B: Misc. Fragments, are formed from snippets of Petrarch's sonnets, loose beads restrung on white space to create new patterns of longing and desire.  

is a beautiful creation, imbued with the eeriness of found footage, deeply rewarding whether you are familiar with Petrarch or not.  It is a book you want to read over and over, each note deepening the mystery, hours of wondering packed into each sentence.  I will dream about this 'house by the sea' for a long time to come. 

Read the whole review here

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Arsenic Lobster poetry journal reviews Carlo Matos' books

Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Reviews: 
Review by Jessica Dyer

Counting Sheep Till Doomsday
by Carlo Matos

Big Bad Asterisk*
by Carlo Matos

Let me be really honest with you. When someone writes a book of poems that includes a “flatulence” section, he’s won my eternal love. That someone is Carlo Matos and that book is Counting Sheep Till Doomsday. My eternal love is in the mail.

“There are so few serious songs about shit,” he writes. Oh? Tell me more. He continues, in “In the Spider House”:

To a spider, it is serious like
an old-world table: expectations to be met, a
host’s ancient duty, life and death. They do
not dare laugh at a fart’s deep echo

At the end of the book, Matos and composer Stephen Jean put the words of “In the Spider House” together with music and performance notes. They write, “All ‘notes’ above the middle line of the staff are to be performed as burps or belches; all ‘notes’ below the middle line are to be performed as farts.”


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Photos on flickr