Bookshelf / Soundtrack (August 2011)
These are the books I’ve gotten over the last few weeks that are staying with me. It’s something of the “people I know” edition, so be aware of that. But it’s because of their work that I know them, so here are a few brand new books for your late summer:
Aby Kaupang, Absence Is Such a Transparent House – This is Kaupang’s first book. Hers is a fragmentary approach, but where fragments usually turn out sounding like cutups from other sources, hers come off much more lyrically. “I thought entering this that I might / evaporate,” she writes, early in the book, which sums up nicely the tone and stance of the book.
Kathleen Ossip, The Cold War – I like books that are smarter than I am, and this is several shades smarter than I am. It’s not an oppressive intelligence, so I don’t’ feel defensive. I feel more like saying things like “WOW” as Ossip jumps and turns from historical moments to the interior of the self. On top of that Sarabande, once again, does a wonderful job with the construction of the book. They really make fine objects. And this one deserves the treatment.
C. Dale Young, TORN – I met C. Dale (actually, as I write above, I’ve met all of the poets I’m mentioning here except for Suzanne Doppelt) in 2007 in New York City, and liked him right away. I might not have come across his poetry otherwise. How to say this? There are different worlds of poetry, where one group doesn’t know a whole lot about what’s going on in the other group. Something like that? For me, C. Dale is a bridge figure. He brings to the personal lyric a real knowledge of something else (medicine), that infuses it with a second turn, one that, for me, draws me in. People often speak about the period style as if it were one thing, but it’s not. There are several strands weaving in and around the period right now, and I think Young’s poetry is a good example of one of those strands done very well.
Suzanne Doppelt, The Field Is Lethal (trans. Cole Swensen) – I just got this yesterday, and I’m fascinated. The pictures on this post are all from Doppelt. The book is composed of Doppelt’s close prose meditations, fragments, and photographs. I can see why Cole Swensen wanted to translate it.
Matthew Cooperman, STILL: – I also just got this one yesterday, but I read it awhile back in manuscript. It reads to me as if someone took time-lapse slides of (mostly) American culture from right about now, and then placed the slides under a microscope. Each slide contains directions for use, and comes with descriptions and raw data. Cooperman writes: “Premise: the loss is smaller than the gain.” I think of Cooperman's approach as The Kitchen Sink approach. He throws everything at it, whatever it is at any given moment. I mean this all in a very good way. It's remarkable the intelligence and energy he can command in this book, as he did in his last one, DaZE.
Joshua Kryah, We Are Starved – The inaugural volume of the Mountain West Poetry Series from University Press of Colorado, edited by Stephanie G’Schwind. Again, a beautifully made book. Even if you don’t buy it or read it, you really need to hold a copy. And then, once you’ve held it, you’re going to want to buy it. Kryah’s poetry is a very good example, along with Dana Levin’s, of the New Spirituality I was writing some about on the blog this summer. It’s more about, well, hunger, than it is grace, or what many might want from a “spiritual” book of poems. It’s not a polite book of devotion, but it is a book that is devoted.
Soundtrack: Moonface, The Rosebuds, and Jolie Holland.
Moonface, Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I Wanted - Moonface takes a little explaining. It’s a solo album by Spencer Krug, best known as lead singer for Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. Moonface is a very different animal. It’s just simple drum machine with several layers of overdubbed organ. And then over the top of that, Spencer Krug sings. The songs are long. Seven or so minutes each. I went ahead and added the 20 minute EP track he put out last year, and a non-album track I found on the Internet to make the thing seven songs and over an hour. I rather love this album. “Do this in the hospital lobby, singing, leave the revolution to the revolutionaries,” he sings, or I think he sings.
The Rosebuds, Loud Planes Fly Low – Apparently this is the divorce album from the former husband and wife duo that is The Rosebuds. It’s a rather nice mess of sadness and regret, mostly not played out directly as the breakup of a relationship. It has some twee moments, some grunge moments, some ethereal moments, some spacey moments. In short, nice.
Jolie Holland, Pint of Blood – This is the album Lucinda Williams should have made after Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. But I’m glad someone finally has.
Björk! and St. Vincent! both have albums coming up soon. I’ve heard two songs from the Björk album and one from the St. Vincent album so far, and all seem pretty strong. I’m looking forward to September.