Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mary Jo Bang's Location / Dislocation

Mary Jo Bang’s poetry is both specific and elusive, playfully serious or seriously playful. I’m continually fascinated by the way her poetry is able to contain these kinds of moves, where location and dislocation can share the stage equally and to powerful (ephemeral?) effect.

Here’s an example from her most recent book The Bride of E. You can see the play and locationing / dislocationing from the title of the poem on (Is it “consider this corruption” as in “consider THIS thing here as corruption” or is it “consider this corruption” as in “consider this corruption here before us” is the poem the site of the corruption or the chronicle of the corruption?  Or is it both?  Nice.  )


In the film concerning the cult of the living,
The woman was taken.
Some people looked at her and said nothing
And some said one interpretation is that

All action is in the mind, a cluster of notions
In depravity’s head independent of the dreadful
Invention of the magnetic temporary where
A partition is positioned between right and wrong.

On the back of the partition,
On the aspect from which she and we are reading,
It is written: Everyone is reckless sometime.
What will come next? There is no worse punishment

Is there than this other empty body:
             The eyes half-closed, the canvas in back
whitewashed into a steady gaze. We are appalled
apparently. We are held up by a rug-covered table.

The gift is the effortless image of bent rebar lengths
Encircling a neck. Thank you.
We are for all intents and purposes broken.


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