Charles River

Charles River
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"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

TEN -- Jennifer Firestone

Jennifer Firestone’s Ten (BlazeVox, 2019) is simply and elegantly conceived as a series of interconnected poems, adhering to the procedural rule of ten lines each. Firestone’s playful, at times capricious sense of lyric is on beautiful display here as the logic of the lines shifts in unexpected and delightful ways, making intricate connections between disparate registers and in the process unfolding the complex seams and ligatures which link the outer world to the inner. Within the restraints of the ten-line procedure these poems amaze with their diverse range of formal turns and the experiences they map out. With their sometimes flat, affectless end-stopped lines that verge on or subvert or actually are aphorisms, these poems produce an uncanny force field of unexpected pathos.

“It becomes dark, fear of what a day has held.
Some balcony plants live. Yet old ones
have more character. They’re austere and stable.
Portioned nature aware of its limitation.
Is that truthful? Or what one has just is.
Can even be nice. Why need to compare.
Let me stay with sight.
The bird dove into a pine. My mind
says, nest. She vanishes
for so long.”

Firestone has a consistent gift for ending these poems on a note of quiet astonishment or surprise. This is chamber music, but it often carries a symphonic surge. Each poem proceeds by little leaps of cognition – assembling an array of sensible data on the fly – that feels natural and right but are also acutely rendered observations of the lived world. “She vanishes/for so long.” Here the enjambment accomplishes the work of re-cognition, attesting to the fact that nothing finally can speak for itself – everything we see must be spoken for.

You can read more about and order TEN here.

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