Thursday, February 02, 2006

ixnay reader #2

the ixnay reader volume 2 is new out from ixnay press. it's great to see chris and jenn mccreary back in the publishing biz, taking what surely must be precious time away from their twins to offer this fine contribution to the present poetry moment. (and don't think the cover art depicting the constellation gemini isn't intentional!)

it's a model publication really: a no-frills 8½ x 7 perfect-bound volume with simple woodcut-like cover art -- consistent in size and cover design with the aesthetic of the old ixnay magazine -- that, with fewer poets and more pages than your average periodical, gives the authors ample room to stretch out and show your their stuff.

i'll only call attention here to the work that stands out to me on a first runthru.

fran ryan is a new name for me. Blaise is a very intriguing quasi-narrative that for all but one of its 17 pages consists of a few lines (never more than five) across the top of each page, leaving caverns of white space below that few publishers would tolerate. i say "quasi-narrative" because this has the feel of a cut-and-paste from some pre-existing narrative whose precise details and sequence are of course defamiliarized through the process. but it's the quality of the resulting cuts and repetitions that intrigue me:

Speak into mirror this is a practice learn to speak again insistent. The razor is an
intimate the surprise and Blaise who speaks through cut, this is the only practice
only, recording into tape released and care in speaking each step.

this might be something like Krapp's Last Tape filtered through bernadette mayer -- and that's high praise in my book. ryan's is a name i'll keep an eye out for.

Kaia Sandgreat to see new work from my dear former d.c. friend kaia sand, whom the pacific northwest has stolen away from us here along with her husband jules boykoff, whom i both miss dearly. kaia offers us simply Poems: "bell curve," which finds her putting anaphora to use in a way reminiscent of ginsburg's "howl," something i've not seen from her before. by contrast, "not only everything alive" is a serial poem -- dedicated, i hope i'm correct here, to her mother -- in tight lines and stanzas that find her working the niedecker-oppen terrain she works so well.

               in the stone, a national
park ungated

in the stone, opalescence
in the stone, three stories
an eye in a crevice
your eye is not only
everything alive

in the stone, erosion
in the creekbed, succulent

nomenclature for red red
mountains unto rivulets unto
unto exactly

Kevin Varronekevin varrone read a few years back at DCAC but i've not seen much of his work in print, so his "pro se (10.20-11.2)" is a real treat. it feels like journaling but has an incredible precision about it. here's the third of its 14 pages. i love how this moves from rather mundane observation to different levels of personal, sometimes profound intimacies. nostalgia, despair, fallout, in-joke, are all blended with a kind of resiliance, or better still a refusal to cave to hostile surroundings.

there are birds that hover & those that take off at steep pitch. those that make
noise in the morning & those silent at noon. things said & the words after,
words, as if in latin. a desperate octave of the throat. a tom waits song.

all our kings are mad & thin. all our better angels end up in the sea.

where detail is oxygen, whatsoever in the sciences. fig tree & ditto. I tried to make
it stick. there was a river once & ashfeathers & paperbits from fireworks on the
water alit on our shoulders & in our hair. sometimes detritus passed for snow.
sometimes data passed for magic in that city.

(having peeled said apple alone, I produced my very own blessing & curse.)

I miss contingent right angles, perpendiculars for skulking & lurking. nothing
loves a planned community. nothing haunts a traffic circle. trapped in a
rhombus of despair, I think I'll go all no-bones. there is a stone in all of us.

Jen Colemanfinally, jen coleman is another dear former dc friend who always wows me. attention publishers: here is someone who needs book publication! jen is the outsider artist's poet. her serial poem "surprise lake" alternates various and sundy found, stolen, clip-arted, fingerpainted or otherwise "primitive" (meaning complex, as rothenberg has taught us) illustrations with these short page-long lyrics that are, i don't know how else to put it, brilliantly braindamaged.

you know that creeley poem that goes "he hie fie finger / hurt himself real bad..."? (actually i look it up -- it's "The Man" from For Love, and it goes: "He hie fie finger / speak in simple sound / feels much better / lying down. // He toes is broken / all he foot go / rotten / now. He look // he hurt bad, see / danger all around he / no see before / come down on him.") i mean it's unlikely that creeley is having fun at the expense of a non-native english speaker here. so what is this? i don't know, but i suspect it just happens.

i think too of #38 in zukofsky's Anew:

                         Belly Locks Shnooks Oakie
When he awoke, he
Scared all the spooks. He
Was some oak, he
this could be baby talk, or a child who's afraid of spooks under the bed as easily as in dreams. or joe ceravolo's "drunken winter" (which has more than an oak in common with the zukofsky):

                         Oak oak! like like
it then
cold some wild paddle
so sky then;
flea you say
"geese geese" the boy
June of winter
of again
Oak sky
now jen coleman has spent some time in the midwest, and i guarantee you she knows a bit about drunken winter. these are utterances that may strike one as abnormal, or childlike, or primitive, or cognitively impaired, or something. in the same way that certain outsider art might seem. at first. but it does not take long before their brilliance shines through. here's the opening stanza from jen's "surprise lake":

                  Open a wet free look-down fresh.
Surprise-eyed lake, a face open.
On open, on open, open a wet live sees.
to me this feels like what would happen if you ran gertrude stein through a ceravolo condenser-filter. brilliant! that first line: a command that demands an object. "open a..." sorry, no object today. but how about five adjectives? followed in the next line by two wonderfully dense and interrelated images, and a third line that seems like santa calling out to his reindeer but instead enjoins us to carry out another perplexing command: open a wet live sees.

and it's ALL like this! all this good, even better, stanza after stanza. oh, and don't forget about the illustrations interleaved: goats, fire hydrants, cars, embryos, and... well you just have to see for yourself since i really should leave some neuroplasticity for the rest of you.

also contains work by daniel hales, pattie mccarthy, eric keenaghen and eli goldblatt. at five bucks postage paid, the ixnay reader volume 2 is a no-brainer, folks. at this price, they practically buy themselves. buy two and give one away! make checks or money orders payable to either Chris or Jenn McCreary, and send to

ixnay press
c/o McCreary
1328 Tasker Street
Philadelphia PA 19148

1 comment:

Jessica Smith said...

um HELLO, this is what i'm looking for for OV:
her serial poem "surprise lake" alternates various and sundy found, stolen, clip-arted, fingerpainted or otherwise "primitive" (meaning complex, as rothenberg has taught us) illustrations with these short page-long lyrics that are, i don't know how else to put it, brilliantly braindamaged.

totally. is it a full MS? can i see it? do you know her? can you ask her?