The Grey Bird, (Coconut Books, 2014), with emojis by Carina Finn and translations by Stephanie Berger, is one of the most exciting books I’ve read in a long time. Here’s why:
1. Collaborative work is better reading than solo projects.
Sometimes when I read a book by a single author, I want to write in the margins and create another poem/work, offering editing suggestions, and/or just plain letting them know how much I loved a certain line. When you have more than one lens involved in a work, you can see more than a single consciousness’s approach, and it often seems “better” than what I would imagine would have been created on one’s own. If I had just seen Finn’s emojis or just read Berger’s text, I am not sure I would have been as entranced. It’s the combination that works and is brilliant.
Finn’s emojis on their own:
Berger’s text on its own:
Is that a poem or just a bunch of food? Continue reading
Image via Fence Books
This book is so good that I’m afraid of writing an essay about it because essays are kind of this fake vehicle for the essayist to sound/feel clever about herself and how she noticed this or that pattern in whatever book and ignored passages x or y that really don’t fit with said pattern and maybe things are supposed to be messy and cryptic and unknowable and that’s the beauty of it all, whatever “it” is. Thus:
1. From “Meatgirl Training Shift #1”
open your mouth wide.
your eater should see fur down your throat.
you have to stay like this as long as he eats.
sometimes after they try to throw the bones in your mouth.
don’t get mad.
they think we like it, like they’re telling us we’re doing good.
“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
—Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto
Sometimes I think we’re all still in the Surrealist movement—that even Conceptualism (and its precursors/iterations thereof) is in some way a permutation of the Surrealist idea of breaking apart signifier/signified—that in dreams, for example, things may not “make sense” and that’s okay. Exploring that nonsensical, whimsical aspect of our thoughts is what art should be about. At least, that’s what I think after reading Valerie Mejer’s Rain of the Future (Action Books, 2014), edited and translated by C.D. Wright, with additional translations by A.S. Zelman-Doring and Forrest Gander. Continue reading
Have you ever read/watched/listened to a book/movie/song that really annoyed you because it challenged what you felt to be aesthetically pleasurable? And then you kept on reading/watching/listening and you realized there was a beauty in the formerly perceived grotesquerie? Which caused you to not only find said book/movie/song actually awe-inspiring but also caused you to recalibrate your whole sense of aesthetics in general?
That’s kind of what Janice Lee’s Damnation will do to you. Or not “do” to you, so much as endlessly “be” to you. Continue reading