Danielle Dutton's flash fiction/prose poetry collection Attempts at a Life I found to be really fascinating. Her work harkens back in interesting ways to 20th Century Modernism and engages referentially, from one piece to the next, with various writers from that era and earlier eras as well as the present, notably Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, William Carlos Williams, et. al.
Some of the writing here I found quite challenging in the same way I'm baffled by a lot of modern poetry but that's OK! Much of Dutton's work here, however, is just flat out brilliant in its creative wordplay and mind wrenching conceptual juxtapositions. Good stuff!
P.S. Dutton has a short novel due out from Siglio Press Aug. 23rd called SPRAWL.
June 28, 2010 05:33am
Coming off the mystification of Mathias Svalina's The Viral Lease I jumped right back up on the horse, read his collection, Destruction Myth: Poems, and totally loved it. These prose poems are top flight expressions of wildly imagined absurdist fantasy full of wit and whimsy. Can't think of anyone (except for some stuffy inlaws) who would not be delighted by this book!
Kim Parko's collection Cure All is another genre bender--are they prose poems or flash fictions?--but one thing they definitely are is superb. The imagination at work in these pieces is in full throttle and frequently veers toward the weird and creepy in fascinating ways. Much of the imagery deals with the human body in states of disease and death or with the female organs of reproduction but these subjects are always treated in allegorical or fabulous ways with juxtapositions which continually surprise and delight. Cure All is among the very best things I've read recently and Parko is another writer whose work I'll eagerly look out for in the future.
Chelsea Martin's collection Everything Was Fine Until Whatever is an eclectic mix of "confessional" micro-fictions, wry and frequently LOL funny reflections and observations, "subliminal" micro-texts and artwork which is highly entertaining throughout. The biting wit and edgy sarcasm on offer here at times reminded me of the stand up comedy of Sarah Silverman. Fun stuff! Check it out.
I was pretty much completely baffled by the poem contained in Mathias Svalina's chapbook The Viral Lease notwithstanding my recent growing appreciation for the work of a number of different poets e.g., Zachary Schomburg, Myread Byrne, Ross Stuart, Linh Dinh, etc. Svalina's poem makes me realize I still have a long way to go before I'll be able to grasp much of the kind of poetry that's entirely without the familiar anchors of prose narrative. Oh well, I'll keep trying.
I read Sasha Fletcher's When All Our Days Are Numbered Marching Bands Will Fill the Streets & We Will Not Hear Them Because We Will Be Upstairs in the Clouds during the interstices of a four day trip out of town which was otherwise tediously unpleasant. The fantastical flights of Fletcher's imagination proved to be a terrific intellectual playground to have fun in, enjoy oneself and forget the quotidian stresses of the real world. Recommended!
I really liked about half the poems in Linh Dinh's Jam Alerts, was pleasantly mystified by about 30% and didn't like about 20% (primarily the Neo-Marxist oriented ones). The best poems display a very raw, often angry sensibility frequently allied to wit and humor. I was impressed by the total fearlessness of Linh's risk taking; his unconcern with possibly offending in not shying away from vulgarity and ugliness. Almost all the work here reveals a distinctively personal and edgy approach which is fascinating though not pretty. Well worth looking into.
Read another very fun, bubblingly imaginative poetry chapbook, this one a collaboration between Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg called OK, Goodnight. I do detect a softer, gentler wordplay on offer here than in Schomburg's solo projects but I kind of expected that and the result is still very satisfying, just a bit less edge. Good stuff!
It was a real pleasure re-entering the strange world of Robert Walser's prose pieces in the newly published Microscripts. This is a selection of English translations of the myriad strips and odd pieces of discarded paper, used envelopes, advertising flyers, etc., containing the tiny texts written in Walser's unique radically miniaturized version of German Kurrent script which were left behind after his death in 1956.
The items range from whimsical musings and observations about quotidian events that captured his fancy to short fictional narratives.
In most of these pieces the Walserian penchant for long sentences which continually veer in unpredictable twists and turns is in full flower. It's that ever surprising quality of the writing allied to a truly strange imagination that makes the reading so much fun.
This edition is very scholarly in it's documentation of the original sources including photos of each original microscript text heading the English translation of it that follows and extensive footnotes as well as reprintings of the German texts that were used for the translations at the back of the book. Also included as an Afterword is a translation of an interesting essay of appreciation of Walser by Walter Benjamin.
So, I'd say this is definitely essential for dedicated Walserians but probably not the best introduction to his work. In that category I'd recommend the novel The Robber and the collection Speaking to the Rose.