Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me, by Mark Leidner, Factory Hollow Press
I picked up Mark’s book at 2am during a week long stint of sleeping on Paige Taggart and Sam Starkweather’s couch before my departure to Rome, where I was going to live for a bit. I was enchanted by lily pads, horrified by chauvinism, enraptured by chauvinism and the simultaneously brute and beautiful force of Mark’s images and his mastery of The Line. This book made me jealous of Mark’s comic absurdity and the vulnerability, which at first glance, may be considered absent. This early morning read caused me to write Mark a Facebook message using lines from his poems. I think I signed it, “Sincerely, T-shirt full of eggs.” It was totally flirting; it was totally serious. I think we’re friends now. (Mark, are we friends? Call me, xoxo.)
Parents, by Farrah Field (chapbook out with Dan Magers’ Immaculate Disciples)
When I read Farrah’s first collection Rising , I was torn apart by a very simple line: “Someone touched my arm. What is an arm?” I was sitting in Red Horse Café with Paige Taggart circa 2009, our old grad school days, and she was telling me how I JUST HAD TO READ Rising. Ever since then I’ve been a fan of her work. Now that we are friends, now that I’ve seen her marry the love of her life (poet Jared White), now that I’ve eaten dinner in her kitchen, swapped clothing and life stories (I’m wearing her striped sweater right-as-I-type), I have an impressive amount of admiration for everything she does—and of course the fact that she can so effortlessly make things like poop beautiful. (Of course she has other talents…which include knitting, cooking, assembling an impressive array of chapbooks for Berl’s Book Store and giving advice when she may not even be aware of it). I once read with Farrah for the Zinc reading series last spring and she told a story about whale poop that somehow, just wasn’t gross. I am no more fascinated by Farrah because I’ve come to know her as a Person outside of the Poems. But the fact that I do just means I can live inside of her poems in more than one box: as a reader, friend, admirer, unafraid of poop in poetry. I’m not sure I’ve ever told her how much I admire her. So Farrah, here’s my way of saying so.
The Cloud Corporation, by Timothy Donnelly
No other book has made me reconsider so much about my emotional and physical life. I wrote a review about this book for Sink Review if you are interested in checking it out: The Cloud Corporation. There’s one line I keep returning to, so much so, that I’m using it as an epigraph in my forthcoming full length. “To admit that what falls/falls solitarily, lost in the permanent dusk of the particular.” That line says what I’ve been trying to put into words about my heart, soul (yes who cares if I’m be oh-so-cliché) and existence. How can one book encapsulate so much of one person’s life? I mean—mine, and the poet’s? It is a massive read—150 pages of often dense poems. But this one is coming to the grave with me. Hear that?! I want to be buried with this book.
Inferno, by Eileen Myles
“At some point in her life, a woman realizes she can fuck anyone she wants to.” I could end there. And for a day after writing this, I did. But that wouldn’t do Inferno or you, my reader, whoever you are, any justice. Eileen’s self-dubbed “poet novel” is as much of a portrait of an artist’s self discovery as it is a mantra for women to live by. At least, that is how I felt about it. The last time I felt all unstoppable-empowered-female was when I read Adrienne Rich’s collected essays, including one on compulsory heterosexuality. If you want to feel unwieldy and if you want to feel centered and if you want to feel like you have a fly-on-wall’s heart inside of a woman inside of a man inside of the great beast of the history of poetry in our city, you should go throw Inferno into the East River, then strip down naked and go save it before all of the pages bleed. Or you could just read Inferno and metaphysically have the same experience. Your choice.
You And Three Others Are Approaching a Lake, by Anna Moschavokis
I read this while sitting in Ryan Doyle May’s bed. We were both in our pajamas, drinking coffee, hung-over, and living out our Will & Grace fantasy.* There was something about the atmosphere of the basement that lent itself to the coarse and cold places reading this took me to. I had to read this twice—once to enter the space that allows one to be overtaken by poetry that is slightly more conceptual and metaphorical and second to figure out how the hell she did IT. Moschavokis found a way to document our entire world’s problems—economy, pollution, gender
inequality, money, the electronic and media riddled portrayal of every man, woman and child, etc. etc. etc. Name a World Problem and she enters into it with grace and cleverness. I kept putting the book down, pacing around (much to Ryan’s dismay) and repeatedly remarking—AH! Perhaps a third read, and then a passing on of the book to someone who needs it will complete the cycle of responsibility this book gave me permission to appreciate.
(Ryan refuses to see our living arrangement as Will & Grace-ish. But I think he’s coming around. I mean, Ryan—I ‘ve seen you in your bathrobe. Eeep!)