It’s suddenly frickin’ cold in New York. Why? Who’s idea was winter? Can’t we just have it as a metaphor, rather than a real, and endlessly prolonged, season?
• New books for review:
A GRINGO LIKE ME by Jennifer L. Knox
IN THE MIDDLE DISTANCE by Linda Gregg (galley)
GOD’S SILENCE by Franz Wright (galley)
I’m excited to read the Knox. For a long time, as her poems appeared increasingly in journals, I was skeptical. I wondered, “is this poet just being funny for funny’s sake, just to get people to like her and her poems?” But as I continued to read the poems as more and more editors fell for them, I began to think those editors had made a good call. Knox’s persistent, sometimes overabundant silliness is offset by a formal rigor, as if she is fitting banana-shaped pegs into square holes, an accomplishment that turns out to be quite impressive. And the poems are fun as hell, too. I would say this, though, to Soft Skull Press, the publisher of Knox and Pafunda’s books: Over the last couple of years, you’ve built up a compelling and increasingly important list of poets. Please, put a little more money into the books themselves, the objects. They seem rather flimsy, as if they’re not meant to last, and these are your poets’ bids for some time outside of the passage of time. Don’t let their books disintegrate.
Linda Gregg sits atop a deep well indeed. Her muscular, clipped sentences spring from a fountain of hard earned wisdom. It doesn’t matter how much we know about how she’s earned her wisdom—the poems are wise and sustaining, and that is enough to know.
Wright’s new book is much like his old books, but much longer—it’s 140 pages! What that means is that there are many tiny, negligible poems, most of which contain a few stunning (and I mean absolutely stunning—one is arrested, stopped) lines. There are also a few major pieces, poems of such penetrant power that, like reverse ants, they can carry countless poems a fraction of their size. I’m not sure, yet, whether there is anything here as momentous as “The Only Animal,” the most important poem in Wright’s last book, which, to my way of thinking, is a poem that will last.
• Recent Book I want but haven’t been able to get my hands on yet:
FORIER SERIES by Joshua Corey
• Forthcoming Books I’m looking forward to:
Joshua Clover’s next book, forthcoming, I believe, from U. of California sometime in the next year or so
AMPUTEE’S GUIDE TO SEX by Jillian Weisse coming next year from Soft Skull
I know this is a lot of yammering on about books, but it saves B and other friends from having to listen to me talk about them all the time. At least you can choose not to read this if you don’t want to; they’re stuck with me.