Letter From Reviews Editor, Spring/Summer 2019

Letter From The Reviews Editor

In this issue, Lix Z writes Andrea Abi-Karam’s EXTRATRANSMISSION, a book working genderqueer cyborg responses on and over various state violences from various states, as “assert[ing] a remembrance and a rupture.” The “re-” prefix can re(-)mind us that repetition is not the same thing as “the same” or simply the production of mirrors. We’re not about déjà vu all over again, because every time an “again” haunts, it changes, shifts, produces a key we may already know but maybe not quite like that. Through collaborative projections, some ghosts might come around and around, depart and re-double. That the “rupture” near “remembrance” constitutes a break with the repeating thing, its doubling makes and breaks a difference. We repeat, reverberate, resist, make resilient, and “record,” a word which means “bring to remembrance.” We read, again and again. Lix Z teaches us how we might do this with Abi-Karam’s exhaustive and engaging work.

These forms of bringing to remembrance are brought to bear in this issue as well with Aria Aber writing on Jenny Xie’s Eye Level, whose work “look[s] into how to honor the questions with a precision that stems from a deep-seated, profound love for the world.” Probing into experiences of exile and borders, Aber gives us the time and space to see the variety of levels Xie’s poetry might operate within and through. Our eyes are retrained: so to speak, so to see. Aber underlines Xie’s lines that “combat the psychological anguish of displacement” while also “mixing sensory information to create synesthesia.” Aber additionally reminds us that Xie’s work exists in a collective genealogy of contemporary poets of color. This careful framing does, at the very least, some work to draw together writing instead of acting as if each person works alone.

Working with and hearing a variety of persons and documents, Jonah Mixon-Webster’s poetry, in its ghostly materiality, is read by Adam Malinowski as a space for “radical critique” of antiBlack violence. Outlining the “ongoing emergency” of Flint’s water crises, especially how they relate to Black persons, Malinowski finds Mixon-Webster “interrogat[ing] identification,” showing forth the fissures and foundations of local and state militarization’s internal collapse and its realities and resonances.  In a succinct response, Malinowski finds “police violence, environmental degradation, and rampant state border securitization” coming together in a recording that reissues and propels a typographic set of responses and renewals by Mixon-Webster. Ultimately, what is at stake for Malinowski is Mixon-Webster’s Stereo(TYPE) “imagin[ing] a space outside the white supremacist power structure.”

What is already happening outside? “Reflections on being and dying are not abstractions, but known and felt on variously physical and spiritual planes,” Alisha Mascarenhas writes into Etel Adnan’s Surge. Here we witness another form of address that takes into account racialized environmental disaster and consequence. Mascarenhas notes how Adnan devotes deep, humble study to “clear shouts to the wind.” These “natural” movements of “body-mind” demand so much from us listeners and recorders, rehearsing another poetics as Mascarenhas says of Adnan “with relentless sensitivity.”

These writings all fall under what get called “reviews.” We sit with something like “seeing again,” especially those we haven’t seen in a long time. Staying with what strays and rests without arresting.

If you would like to send writing for a future issue, please query: reviews.ppnl@poetryproject.org

John Rufo

Photo: S*an D. Henry-Smith

John Rufo

John Rufo has been a reviews editor for The Poetry Project Newsletter since 2017. Work has been published, or is forthcoming, on Poets [dot] org, Ploughshares, The Offing, The Capilano Review, Tagvverk, Entropy, The Journal Petra, NOO, and Dreginald. Links and contact at johnspringrufo.tumblr.com