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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Knitted robots! I gotta break out my needles again.

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Shanna and Jen cruised into town on Tuesday for the last stop of the first leg of their book tour, and they proceeded to blow our buttoned-down capital wide open. I've heard both Shanna and Jen read a few times before, but I keep getting new insights . . . this time I thought about how often in Shanna's poems, speech gets choked off by the weight of what's already said. And I realized just how much Jen's poems are persona poems . . . I guess that seems kind of obvious, but Jen's readings tend to be very performance oriented, and her book obviously represents a wider range of work than I've heard at prior readings.

Anyway, after the reading, a group of us, including Reb Livingston, Kaplan Harris, Moira Egan, and series host Sandra Beasley, trooped off to Zaytinya for mezzes which ultimately made Jen ill, but which seemed quite yummy at the time, especially the "squash blossoms with pipe dream filling." (That was really on the menu).

Afterwards, I took the sleepy poets to my house, where we talked about turtles, and they met my new pet fish, Nino and Clarence, although Nino was totally dead by the next morning. Fat little Nino, we hardly knew ye.

But Clarence is a survivor, baby. I'm thinking of getting him new digs now that he's a swinging bachelor fish. Shanna and Jen are survivors, too, and don't even live in a tank. They're continuing their Safety Orange Tour . . . check out the dates and see if they're coming to a place near you!

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Monday, October 10, 2005


Gina Myers is speaking very very softly this week over at No Tell Motel.

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Been meaning to write a little bit about Kate Greenstreet's chapbook, Learning the Language for a while now, but work-related insanity has interfered. Sorry if what follows seems too "reviewer-y," but I'm trying to decode my own reaction to these poems beyond "Hey, me likey," which is my usual articulated depth. Anyway, to break out the vocabulary, these poems take on the essential difficulties of understanding and connection-making, likening everyday speech to fortune-telling: an art in which one taps into a mysterious source that may not always tell you what you want to hear.

They always want to know the same things: love
and money. Or, "Yes,
the world will soon acknowledge . . ."

The poems evoke traveling, bridges, drawing, detective novels, gestation – all translations over distance, obstacles, vision, knowledge, or being. But speech, like any relation across spaces, is difficult, and oblique.

For a long time,
I didn't know what to say.
And of course I didn't want to say it.

Things remain uncertain despite the fact that language is our attempt to render everything clear. Time itself interferes . . . our memories, which are supposed to allow us uninterrupted access to a narrative, are themselves faulty.

All positions being apparent,
no one agrees about
what happened next.

But the poems themselves attain clarity through an accretion of nuanced emotions, connections misplaced and replaced in a field, constantly. And this give and take between what is said and what is heard, what is done and what is understood, becomes instead of forbidding blankness, an opportunity for reinventions, for multiple "ways of saying," and many types of progress toward communication.

The urge to travel, the longing for home,
it comes to us
as weather

. . . .

What is in us already.

Because we love the ground,
The uncrossed distance.

Interested? Good. You can find Learning the Language here, and don't forget to watch out for her upcoming full-length collection from Ahsahta!

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