1. On Patagonia
The farther south they went, the colder it became.We travel among the same monsters and with the same longings.Many animals even eat their afterbirth. (Fani Papageorgiou)
I’ve long been a fan (envious, even) of Ugly Duckling Presse’s 6x6, produced out of Brooklyn, New York. A journal with lovely letterpress covers, each issue includes six authors per, usually stand-alone works and/or sections of larger projects. The current issue, #25 (Winter 2011-2012), includes Sherman Alexie’s “Bestiary,” an untitled selection of poems by Noah Eli Gordon, Marina Kaganova’s “from Sakartvelo,” Karen Lepri’s “from Fig. I Apparatus for Heat Obscured,” Fani Papageorgiou’s “The Life of Explorers” and an untitled selection of poems by Roger Williams. I know we live in the age of the internet, but why does such a journal not include author biographies?
VII. On the Highway Code
You can sometimes hear traffic before you see it.It can be dangerous to lose power when driving in traffic. You musthave sufficient fuel before commencing your journey.
Night, the hours of darkness, is defined as the period between half anhour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.When traveling on ice, tires make virtually no noise.
Islam requires all men to be pilgrims. (Fani Papageorgiou)
What a lovely sequence Fani Papageorgiou’s eleven-part “The Life of Explorers” is. There is something startling about her lines, able to stop the reader every few stanzas, cold. Where has Papageorgiou come from, and is it possible to see more?
My mother sends me a black-and-whitephotograph of her and my father, circa1968, posing with two Indian men.
“Who are those Indian guys?” I ask heron the phone.
“I don’t know,” she says.
The next obvious question: “Then whydid you send me this photo?” But I don’task it.
One of those strange Indian men ispointing up toward the sky.
Above them, a bird shaped like aquestion mark. (Sherman Alexie, “Bestiary”)
Sherman Alexie’s “Bestiary” is a six-part narrative sequence that floats through the abstract of a series of concrete questions about a series of events throughout the narrator’s extended history. There’s a quality to Alexie’s writing that is reminiscent of American poet Richard Froude’s first trade collection Fabric (Denver CO: Horse Less Press, 2011) [see my review of such here], in the way that the questions evolve through a sequence of woven narratives collaged into a much larger process of storytelling. What might, in the end, Sherman Alexie be telling us?
I’m intrigued by this selection of prose-poems by Denver, Colorado poet Noah Eli Gordon, six poems each with the same title, “The Problem.” With his most recent trade collection, The Source (New York NY: Futurepoem Books, 2011) [see my review of such here], does that mean a possible future full-length collection with a similar title? I’ve long been an admirer of Gordon’s work, and he works quite well in book-length stretches, composing large concepts out of small, thoughtful and detailed fragments, so a full-length work titled “The Problem” doesn’t seem out of the question. I’m curious to see where more of these poems, accumulatively, might go.
The ProblemThis key opens that lock, while that key opens this lock. A camera pans from one to the other. They are not related, and therefore have no visitation rights. The problem is not a literary device. It’s the divisiveness of literature. (Noah Eli Gordon)