Tuesday, June 3, 2014


[N.B. You can scroll down on blog or click on highlighted titles or names to go directly to the referenced article.]


Nicholas James Whittington reviews JOIE DE VIVRE: SELECTED POEMS 1992-2012 by Lisa Jarnot

Aileen Ibardaloza engages VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A STORM OF FILIPINO POETS, Edited by Eileen R. Tabios

T.C. Marshall reviews READING THE UNSEEN (OFFSTAGE) HAMLET by Stephen Ratcliffe

Thomas Fink reviews It is Well Known,” a poem from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by Harriet Zinnes

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews ZEN by Jessica Smith


T.C. Marshall reviews STELE by Cole Swensen

Richard Lopez reviews AMERICAN HAIKU by Jonathan Hayes

Aileen Ibardaloza engages THE ACHARNIANS by Aristophanes. Translation by Douglass Parker

Eileen Tabios engages IMAGINED SONS by Carrie Etter

Greta Aart reviews MICROGRAMS by Jorge Carrera Andrade, Translated by Alejandro de Acosta and Joshua Beckman

Eileen Tabios engages FATE LINES / DESIRE LINES by Caleb Puckett

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews DISTURBANCE by Ivy Alvarez 

Marton Koppany engages the FOURTH INTERNATIONAL TEXT FESTIVAL, Curated by Tony Trehy, Philip Davenport, Susan Lord, Diana Hamilton and KFS Press

Neil Leadbeater reviews COLLECTED POEMS by Patricia Dobler

Tom Hibbard reviews APOLLO:  A BALLET BY IGOR STRAVINSKY by Geoffrey Gatza

Eileen Tabios engages THE ANTS and INSECT COUNTRY (B), both by Sawako Nakayasu

John Bloomberg-Rissman reviews IN THE HOUSE UN-AMERICAN by Benjamin Hollander

Eileen Tabios engages MEMORY HOLES by Erin Virgil

Tom Beckett reviews THE TV SUTRAS by Dodie Bellamy

Eileen Tabios engages HOARD by Jaime Robles

David Rudolph reviews SOUVENIR by Aimee Suzara

Eileen Tabios engages COMPLETE MINIMAL POEMS by Aram Saroyan (2nd Edition), Edited by Aram Saroyan and James Hoff

Neil Leadbeater reviews FIND THE GIRL and DANCE, both by Lightsey Darst

Eileen Tabios engages SIX PORTRAITS by Julie Danho

Tom Beckett engages NO, WAIT. YEP. DEFINITELY STILL HATE MYSELF by Robert Fitterman

Neil Leadbeater reviews DEAR GOOD NAKED MORNING by Ruth L Schwartz

Marton Koppany reviews I USED TO (2012) by Sarah Sanders

Cherise Wyneken reviews THE GLASS SHIP by Judy Wells





VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA – a fundraising anthology for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan



Thanks as ever to Galatea Resurrects' generous volunteer staff of reviewers. In addition to some wonderful feature articles, we have 40 NEW POETRY REVIEWS this issue, encompassing 39 publications and a coverage of the Fourth International Text Festival that took place in Bury, U.K.

With Issue No. 22, GR has provided 1,383 new reviews and 116 reprinted reviews (the latter brings online reviews previously available only viz print or first published in now-defunct online sites). With this issue, we also increased our coverage of poetry publishers by eight to 506 publishers in 17 countries. This is important as much of the ground-breaking poetry work is published by independent and/or relatively small presses who (by the nature of their work) are not always as well-known as they deserve. 

Poetry has enhanced my love of lists so here are GR's latest poetry-lovin' stats!

Issue 1: 27 new reviews
Issue 2: 39 new reviews (one project was reviewed twice by different reviewers)
Issue 3: 49 new reviews (two projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 4: 61 new reviews (one project was reviewed thrice, and three projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 5: 56 new reviews (four projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 6: 56 new reviews (one project was reviewed twice)
Issue 7: 51 new reviews
Issue 8: 64 new reviews (3 projects were each reviewed twice)
Issue 9: 65 new reviews
Issue 10: 68 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice and 1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 11: 72 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice)
Issue 12: 87 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 13: 55 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 14: 64 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 15: 72 new reviews (1 project was reviewed thrice and 4 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 16: 73 new reviews (2 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 17: 108 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 18: 104 new reviews (3 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 19: 68 new reviews (1 project was reviewed twice)
Issue 20: 64 new reviews
Issue 21: 78 new reviews (2 projects were reviewed twice)
Issue 22: 40 new reviews


I continue to encourage authors/publishers to send in your projects for potential review—note that because we believe in Poetry's immortality, GR does not limit reviews to just "recent" poetry publications. And, obviously, people are following up with your review copies (see below)! Information for submissions and available review copies HERE. Future reviewers also should note that the next review submission deadline is NOVEMBER 1, 2014.

Of reviewed publications, the following were generated from review copies sent to GR:

Issue 1: 9 out of 27 new reviews
Issue 2: 25 out of 39 new reviews
Issue 3: 27 out of 49 new reviews
Issue 4: 41 out of 61 new reviews
Issue 5: 34 out of 56 new reviews
Issue 6: 35 out of 56 new reviews
Issue 7: 41 out of 51 new reviews
Issue 8: 35 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 9: 42 out of 65 new reviews
Issue 10: 46 out of 68 new reviews
Issue 11: 46 out of 72 new reviews
Issue 12: 35 out of 87 new reviews
Issue 13: 38 out of 55 new reviews
Issue 14: 40 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 15: 43 out of 72 new reviews
Issue 16: 49 out of 73 new reviews
Issue 17: 73 out of 108 new reviews
Issue 18: 84 out of 104 new reviews
Issue 19: 41 out of 68 new reviews
Issue 20: 50 out of 64 new reviews
Issue 21: 46 out of 78 new reviews
Issue 22: 30 out of 40 new reviews


The beauty of Blogger is how typos can be corrected at any point in time.  If you see any typos, feel free to let me know as I can still correct them even after the issue's release.


I am now blogging more bibliophiletically at EILEEN VERBS BOOKS. You are invited to visit  and stay to peruse.  Poets are invited to participate in four of the blog's ongoing features: "Poetry and Money," "What Are You Reading?", "What do you Re-Read?" and "Writer's Selfie: The Writer's Desk."

I hope you enjoy this issue of Galatea Resurrects!

Eileen Tabios
June 3, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014



Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012 by Lisa Jarnot
(City Lights, San Francisco, 2013)

DAILY VIVISECTION: On Lisa Jarnot’s Joie de Vivre

            “All this had to be said in words…”

The latest, ninth volume in the City Lights Spotlight Series, Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems, 1992-2012, by Lisa Jarnot, does what a “selected” should; it drives the reader out to seek those books from which the selection was made. And this, in part, is the expressed intent of the series, as attested in the back of each volume: “to draw attention to those small presses publishing…the wealth of innovative [US]American poetry being written today.” Truly the best, i.e. most interesting and most engaging, contemporary poetry is published, with but few notable exceptions, by small and even smaller, “micro” presses, not large houses or universities. And this generally has been the case for a hundred years, at least, and probably much longer than that, but if it be not news, it still is true and ought not be forgotten. What also oughtn’t be forgot is that the pronounced contest-ification of the small press publication process, while a sound and proven business model resulting in a glut of books not seen since the NEA stopped throwing money at poet/publishers in the 1980s, is no great boon to Poetry, writ large. The collection of $20 and higher entrance fees, followed by a screening process of interns, grad students, etc., followed by another screening by an “editorial board” and, ultimately, a selection – being required to be made – by some more-or-less established and hence “qualified” Judge, who is pointedly not the publisher, hardly instill much faith in this writer that Great Work is like to come to the fore, unless by sheer accident. (Though, I suppose, accidents do often enough occur.) Call me old fashioned, but I think publishers ought to make their own decisions about what to publish.

A book’s provenance matters, and this is why I’m writing all this: not because I mean to bash any other house in particular, but because I’d like to laud the publisher of this book, Joie de Vivre, and the editor of the series within which it’s set; because this is meant to be a book review, not a consideration of some poems as poems, per se, or “pure” and “simple,” but as poems selected from books, collected into a book, which exists and can be held and beheld, as, again, the books from which they were selected can be, too. I make this point in part because the selection is necessarily small, scarcely more than 100 pages culled from perhaps six times that many of previously published poems – to say nothing of the version of the Iliad, XXII or the meticulous biography of Robert Duncan, just recently out from UC Press – and the workings of much of it extend beyond the bounds of the selection, begging to be found out in their native setting. Certainly, it is to the credit of the editor that one does feel compelled to find them there, as also to his credit is the near seamlessness of the transitions from one prior book’s segment to the next, despite the distinctness of each book as published previously. Well represented here are Jarnot’s four major collections: Some Other Kind of Mission (1996); Ring of Fire (2001, rev. 2003); Black Dog Songs (2003); and Night Scenes (2008); along with a quartet of poems from a recent chapbook, also titled Joie de Vivre, all capped by a long poem, “Amedellin Cooperative Nosegay,” which is, to this reader, perhaps the star of the selection.

Her first book, Some Other Kind of Mission, selections from which comprise the first twenty or so pages of Joie de Vivre, is a Language-impacted, neo-Steinien sequence of (mainly) prose poems and visually complex but text-heavy cut-up/blacked-out/over-written collage works, which together form a sort of self-referential and repetitive feedback system, an echoing edifice whose architectural logic has naught to do with the physical, narrative, or metaphysical contemplation, but nonetheless does evince a powerful logic, or logics, peculiar to poetry, and to dream. Indeed, “dream” and “nightmare” are everywhere present in the atmosphere, as well as by actual naming in these poems, but they are by no means illogical, the poems, nor immaterial, nor invisible, but, as Jarnot writes, “extracted from the visible,” extrapolated from the available language and its logic by an insistent exploitation of syntactical trapdoors, shifting clausal reiterations, and other structural in(ter)ventions:

Hit the pitch coordinate throwing junk. in the back of a tree. we built backwards in the living room or cell. in the pitch of what i dreamt of. in the firs and terns and coming back in morning. hit the pitch coordinate of did the bird or not explode. watching all the field soil in extraction. did or not explode the bird in in the field soil. first it was the motorcade the house of prayer. having gone to. mediocrity. … in chaos, still retracted, at the plan of having dreamt. all around in having dreamt in series differentiate retraction only polar. having giving. to the bus. fir and clover beach tern in retracted. first it was the motorcade, the bird terned in retraction of the tide and having clover. did or not the bird. in meticules in dreamt of field soil at the tern.

It seems the seam where dream- and language-logic might meet, and so be sewn together, is the poem – that is, if we take dream to be some extension of the subconscious and language to be simultaneously an axe of the conscious and an expression of the collective un-conscious. This juncture sets Jarnot’s work early in some trajectory of the Surreal, alongside several other Spotlight authors. Will Alexander, Andrew Joron, and series editor Garrett Caples, himself, are the most avowedly Surrealist, but Cedar Sigo and Micah Ballard – and arguably others, too – while perhaps less expressly Surrealist, do share an expressive character which is redolent of the original Frenchmen who constituted that movement, and of their progenitors, too.

Joron’s Neo-Surrealism or the Sun at Night: Transformations of Surrealism in American Poetry, 1966-1999, originally published in 2000, expanded in 2004, then published again in 2010 with a substantial afterward (dated January of that year) in which the author assembles a good sized supplementary “roster” of arguably neo-surrealist writers, makes no mention of Jarnot, but much of what is written in this invaluable “résumé” of USAmerican neo-surrealism could well be applied to Jarnot’s work. Joron highlights, in specific regard to the work of Alexander, a certain “prioritization of the ‘word’ rather than the ‘image’…, a linguistic turn within neo-surrealist practice…convergent with the emergence…of the Language school[, which] regarded the sixties’ poetics of expressive imagination as a failed utopia. Rather than a poetics of enthusiasm, a poetics of skepticism was advocated: the Romanticism of the metaphoric image was rejected in favor of the ‘realism’ of the metonymic cut-up.” But Joron goes on to cite Charles Brokhuis, who argues that “’both Surrealism and ‘Language’ poetry are attempts to decenter the idea of the self-as-creator’; in both forms, ‘the text is read as an accumulation of poetic evidence’ rather than as the testament of ‘a particular ego.’…Borkuis envisioned a form of ‘Parasurrealist/Textual’ practice, where ‘thought is not outside, observing this process [of writing], but part of it; it finds itself in-situation.’” This is clearly the ground in which Jarnot’s first book is seeded and from which her oeuvre grows.

From the more ambivalent, yet still Whitmanic (and Will Alexanderine, for that matter) songs of the self and not-self which comprise much of Ring of Fire:

I am a partially submerged boat on the waterfront of
 Jack London Square on a Sunday morning buying jam.
 I am flesh-colored and pale, in an indian head dress
cracking chestnuts and eating roots, in the fissure
between the bus lines, …
… I am krill and various large birds, the color
grey of the sidewalk, a small opossum, in the breaking
glass in isolation in the sun, I am waiting for the
swamps and smoke of eucalyptus in the breeze, I am
stuck in traffic near the mudflats on the bay, I am
aimless and have several new tattoos.
(from Sea Lyrics)

to the singly Lear-ic (and, yes, Blakean) character of many of the poems in Black Dog Songs, and Night Scenes, too, with their blatant, tone-lead whimsy tempered with a subtle, subcutaneous melancholy:

To the sparrows high on tree tops
fly on sparrows through the hedge stops
bristle up and fly away
black crest heads point this way gay

What to do for you is write you
into this a word for word zoo
I and you inside the thread
of the vowels sad and red.
(“Harpersfield Song”)

Jarnot’s cheeky mock archaisms, poetic inversions and employ of pseudo-traditional forms and rhythms belie a tense and cutting contemporary ennui, a quagmire of presumptively, and perhaps preemptively, failed attempts at self-definition via identification with place – both geographical and temporal, or in other words, historical – and with the accoutrements of daily living. Now, these accoutrement include the objects of domestic (“the dark metallic stapler”) and public (“the L train”) use (and uselessness) which the Surrealists made such revolutionary use of, in their ready-mades, for instance, highlighting our own estrangement from the very things we use most often and hold most dear, as well as the objects of the natural world, the flora and fauna with which we are most familiar – and these poems are rife with all manner of creatures. But, as Jarnot writes, “the tree and the root and the worm and the corn are all words.” Asked to attend to them as such, do they become more familiar to us? Do we have greater claim to them, as part of the human world, having assigned human sounds to them? (“Because the words are all friends with the worm and the friend of the tree.”) Or is it rather the opposite? (“Because some words they grew up. Because some words they grew up smarter. Because some words they grew up smarter and smarter.”) Do the words outgrow us, overreach the lattice-work of our language, as consciously constructed and used, and turn feral? Jarnot’s work is indeed a “word zoo” replete not only with lemurs, opossums, pigeons and yaks, but also the “concept of the tapir” and the “trajectory of the armadillo.” There are the words, and there are the progeny of the words; and at the risk now of overextending the trope, it might be said that, more than zoos, some of these poems are open-doored menageries on some isle of Dr. Moreau, their vivisected beasts, split-tongued, set free.

As Aaron Shurin’s blurb on the back cover says, “Lisa Jarnot’s book of joy raises joy in return.” This joy, however, is not come to lightly and is no lightheaded euphoria. Jarnot’s poetry works itself out from some early intellectual-linguistic morass (albeit one of a particularly uncanny beauty) through to a mature progressive domesticity, in which the very house of language is accepted as the living thing it is, not “the fantasy of renovated words,” as Jarnot puts it in the title poem of this selection, but an actual multiphastic possibility, as Duncan would say. Duncan’s words are offered as epigraph to Night Scenes, too: “to release the first music somewhere again, for a moment / to touch the design of the first melody,” unabashedly foregrounding the song which is at root of all poetry, all language, “The Song Between,” as a poem from Ring of Fire dedicated to the great Philip Lamantia (whose own collected poems came out from UC Press last fall) is titled:

Break your bird on your beak, bird, with a title known as bird,
with a bird sound called a bird, with a bird, being birdlike,
being all bird, in the shallow water, being all water, in the
shallow bird, being the shallow sound of the bird spray in the
wing, being wing of sound, bird, being where you are,
being all, and the water is the shallow of the sound inside
the bird, a shadow in the window of the man,

the human, who is only human, most human, in response, in call, welcoming the chaos of intercourse, embracing the negative capability inherent in language itself, sounding itself out in echoes, in quotes, both straight and slant, repetitions, second takes, revisions, like a jazz musician hammering at a phrase until it glints just right and shows a way forward, often only later to recur. When one listens to the likes of an Eric Dolphy solo, so called, one hears no solo, but rather a conversation, which is not to say argument or compromise, as some have, with his horn. One hears an actual coming to terms, musically, mutually engendered but belonging neither to Dolphy nor to his horn, belonging only to the air. And, as Dolphy has most famously said, “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.” You can only make more, move on, sing again, anew, even if the same song. It will always be. See that somehow holy Irish wake of a poem “Amedellin Cooperative Nosegay” at the end, remembering in lament and celebration, singing from, and of, and for the common, the cooperative. The community matters:

            and where is he? and where is she?

                      Michael , Rynn, kari,
                      Akilah, Brad, and someday Harry.

            hydrangeas and helicopters
grief its proper mode

                                           “D” in “Death”
                                           under the space between
                                           “will” and “remember”

            that it smells like the painting of a flower

                                    a red flower
                                    a pink kid
                                    a blue dude
                                    and pythons
                                    eating strawberries.


Nicholas James Whittington was born and raised in the City of San Francisco and currently resides in Oakland. He has also lived for significant stretches in Santa Cruz, San Diego and Siena, Italy. Recent poems have appeared in Big Bell, Dusie, The Emerald Tablet, Greetings, Ping Pong, and also AMERARCANA: A Bird & Beckett Review, of which he is the editor. The author of the chapbooks Slough (2010) and Scoria (2012), he works with his father and brother at the family store, Bird & Beckett Books and Records, in San Francisco.



Five chapbooks by Michelle Detorie, C.J. Martin, Jaimie Gusman, Lisa M. Cole and Brad Vogler

Fur Birds / Parrot 14 by Michelle Detorie (Insert Press, Los Angeles, 2012)

There is no table of contents, no front matter in this slim packet. Instead, the chapbook-length poem Fur Birds immediately begins: “I am 15. Female. Human (I think),” suggesting readers must question the narrator of the poem. As we continue to read, we find more clues to tell us who—or what—is speaking through these poems: “We lived in a burrow….I licked my paw” (4), sister has a “tail” (4). The poem ends, “Tongue to paw. Paw / to ground. Pause. / Pause. Repeat.” (16).

The characters in Fur Birds include “I” (having “For hands, fur birds” (16)), “we” (I and “sister”), “you” (“you turn your eye,” “you pull wire from your ribs,” “you’ve been so complicit, so cruel” (5)), and “she” (perhaps the narrator addressing herself: “she thought this to herself before / bed every night for a week” (10). On the other hand, “she is my twin scissor” (13)). The surreal qualities of the world inhabited by Fur Birds are foregrounded. Objects are always important; the book is full of “old bones” (4), “sour birds” (5), a “dead seal” (7), many branches and sticks (9, 14, 15), “metal / chains a-linking” (16). The characters are equally animal as they are human, the setting both wild and tame: “everything seemed fine until / we rolled [the seal] over and saw / the blood” (7) and “each of us was asked to speak” (9). The speaker wears “clothes” (15) but “ate grass” (4). The journey the book takes readers on is a strange one, for sure, but it’s definitely one worth joining in on. Ultimately, Detorie reminds us, “No matter how we look at it – we are either all together or else we are all alone” (13).

Lo, Bittern by C.J. Martin (Atticus/Finch, 2008)

Lo, Bittern immediately demands a reader’s attention. First, the book itself is beautiful, careful. Handsewn, with heavy paper French fold covers, it arrives in a protective plastic sleeve. The physical unwrapping that must occur prefigures the kind of work readers will need to be ready to do, content-wise, once they begin reading the poems inside. The book has two parts; the first, “Lo, Bittern,” consists of 24 pages, and the second, “The Islands 1979,” is four pages long. Is each section a single poem? I can’t be sure. The first line on each page is frequently in all-caps: “--HARDEST WAS LIMIT IS LEFT, UNTOLD” or “ADS ELISSIVE, 1979.” Some pages begin with an even larger and more separate line—“PARTITION” and “PARTITION RUIN.”  But these titles and first lines are inconsistent, and there is no table of contents to guide me.

Since I’m a little unsure how to proceed, I let myself read the poems as driven by sound: “None lo, so founder-pt. (Nor beltus be, / though nothing could: hills, hills, down, / root, left, roots, the, het” I read. I find pleasure in noting, “Of passage as of pasturage,” which I hope is what is expected. The language itself is an object in Lo, Bittern, it’s clear. Martin frequently abbreviates words down to their smallest forms (“pt.,” “w/,” “yr,” “wch.’s,” “tho,” “nt.”) or combines smaller into larger ones (“admixture,” “midmost,” “unnumb,” “be-loved,” “parcelside,” “memory-me”). Or, words are broken: “eas / ily,” “dis / posal,” “adde / d,” “me- / chanic,” “ac / cord.” While I may not readily comprehend the content of the poems here, I always understand and respond to their sound and speed: I read quickly or slowly, according to Martin’s conducting.

Lo, Bittern’s poems are alternately troubling and exciting, and the chapbook is certainly an object worth holding, exploring, and listening to: “Old forms remain what are / day labor and / alter, bitter, memory-me.”

One Petal Row: by Jaimie Gusman (Tinfish, Hawai'i, 2011)

Gusman’s seven-poem chapbook is most obviously tied together by the peculiar figure of “Anyjar”—simultaneously a god, a vessel, a father, a lover, an object, a metaphor, a vision, and even the self. In various poems throughout One Petal Row:, Anyjar speaks (“Anyjar…lectured us on the art of collecting”), Anyjar emotes (“Anyjar gets mad”), and Anyjar is spoken to (“Anyjar, have you lost interest in our home? we ask”). Sometimes Anyjar is totally mundane:  “filled with change,” “cradle[d]…under your arm,” and “left…/in the snow, on a doorstop, / or wrapped in newspaper.” But Anyjar is also larger than life. In the poem “On repetition,” Gusman writes, “our house is roof-deep in water…the jar cannot contain it.” The poem continues, “the Anyjar / is not only a decorative or an alembic / but a systematic approach to the epistemological discovery of collective remembrance.” However, such a system is always undercut; in the previous poem, readers learned that “The Anyjar is not anything not all at all.”

There are other themes in One Petal Row: as well: home, the ocean, love, family, gardens…. The poems reference pudding pops, “a pewter fork,” “delicious flowers,” “a two-seater / and a cup holder,” television sets, couches, ships, sand, backpacks, dinners, and coral reefs. The Anyjar’s peculiarity is particularly powerful because of the way Guzman juxtaposes it with ordinary daily experiences: we “discussed musical instruments as we chewed pen caps,” we have “nicknames,” and “We fog the glass, write.” These engagingly narrative poems resonate strange and dreamlike: “We decided to take a nap” and “We playback our reactions in the bedroom,” all the while both troubled and comforted by the looming figure of the Anyjar.

tinder // heart by Lisa M. Cole (Dancing Girl Press, 2012)

tinder // heart is a book of thirty prose poems, each numbered rather than titled. While the poems are in prose, Cole often uses a double-slash to create tension in the lines, and to act as quasi-line-breaks. This slash also reinforces tinder // heart’s recurring theme of how language and objects are seen, re-seen, and always inconstant. Readers encounter words that are repeated but broken: “darling” becomes “darl-ling” (5), the “leaflets on a terrace” turn into “leaf-lets” (5). Objects, too, morph easily from one thing to the next: “brain as body” is immediately followed by “brain as bullet // brain as lamppost” (8) and “body as map” becomes “body as road // body as landscape” (15).

Death, violence, and the afterlife haunt tinder // heart’s narrator. “Bullet” (8, 17) she echoes, “a bomb going off” (9), “blood” (6), a “razorblade” (19). There are ghosts (23, 5) and graves (27), “corsets & handcuffs” (13), “tarot cards” (7) and a “Ouija board” (23). But even as we “harvest the blood // sterilize the blade” (20) our expectations are shifted. It turns out “death is not a death—is not a death” (3). We must not “be frightened by doors, by gates // by things that creak open” (29) because “to un-bloom is not to wither” (24).

Cole’s book occasionally relies on tired tropes like “zombie eyes” (2) and “the animal in me” (21), but it continually—and importantly—also confronts more existential problems of the human experience. “I see all of these things // I see none of these things” (10) assures Cole’s narrator; “I veer sideways // I veer never-ways (always)” (19).

Fascicle 30 by Brad Vogler (Little Red Leaves Textile Series, 2013)

In Fascicle 30 Brad Vogler draws from poems by Emily Dickinson, cutting, modifying, and re-assembling to create his nine-page chapbook. While it can be tricky at times to precisely locate Dickinson—as Vogler writes, we “lose her / obtain her / lose her / yet obtain her” (3)—Fascicle 30 consistently projects an overall sensibility of the19th century poet. Lines like “you – He is ˟, and brave – I” or “My heart / The liberty to say –” evoke Dickinson’s stutter and pause, and her use of punctuation—dashes, capitalizations—in a sort of echo.

Not everything in Fascicle 30 is clearly sourced, however. Vogler writes, “I often wish myself- / a’bloom – No Bird // Dear, // If God is-,” and readers know that his poem 660 was elsewhere initiated by Dickinson. But if we look up Dickinson’s poem 660 (“’Tis good – the looking back on Grief – ”), we don’t find the expected similarities; Vogler is working from Dickinson’s manuscripts, and we must turn to this more obscure source material instead. Once we examine Dickinson’s original Fascicle 30—a group of twenty-one poems, handwritten on scraps of paper and hand bound—we begin to better realize how these two disparate little volumes might resonate.

It can be wonderfully satisfying to find the word “opon” in Vogler’s poem 657 and Dickinson’s 521, “bosom” in both 656 and 520, “˟ Exclusively – to save” in Vogler’s “659 (variant 2)” as well as Dickinson’s 539. Dickinson’s line “We love the Wound” in her poem 379 becomes Vogler’s “Balmless Wound” in 660. Vogler’s new Fascicle includes crossouts and typeovers and slashes, a sort of revision-on-the-page technique reminiscent of Dickinson’s drafting process. Vogler’s use of numbers recalls Dickinson’s title-free work; too, his poems 658 and 659 are noted as “variants,” reminding readers of the instability of source material while highlighting his compositional process. The Little Red Leaves Textile Series books are always beautiful, tactile products, and the format seems especially apt for Fascicle 30; holding the cloth-covered “lovingly sewn” object activates one more Dickinsonian echo to enhance our reading experience.


Genevieve Kaplan is the author of settings for these scenes (Convulsive Editions, 2013) and In the ice house (Red Hen, 2011). She lives and works in southern California, but you can find her online at The Forest and the Trees (http://genevievekaplan.blogspot.com/