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Pansy Maurer-Alvarez’s In A Form Of Suspension

Pansy Maurer-Alvarez’s In A Form Of Suspension

Tears in the Fence contributing editor, Pansy Maurer-Alvarez’s new poetry collection, In A Form Of Suspension (Corrupt Press, 2014), which is being launched at Carr’s pub, 1 rue du Mont Thabor, Paris on Friday, 28th March, explores sexual impulse through a series of lush and throbbing sound patterns.

 

My altitude wavers so rasping, it slips a ring raining onto hands

and hisses words between two spongy blue tides

Like daily loose grammar despite radiance, I soar

and improvise on paper a rapid page pressed to hinge;

sliding open a rusted gap, I sway and pitch my limbs

averting rows of loss that diminish the rewritten labyrinthine chill

 

Maurer-Alvarez’s poetry combines succulent musicality within a full poetic line and avoids the pitfalls of over-determining the line. She is the mistress of the measured longer poetic line, of the line break, and of being able to manage lines of differing lengths in one stanza. She excels in this collection. It is quite a different skill to say the likes of Rae Armantrout or Shannon Tharp, who excel with the short line and have great depth through brevity. Here the poet is more divergent and produces a beguiling journey for the reader. It is utterly pleasurable taking the reader to unusual places and thoughts, demanding repeated readings. I am reminded of the famous Dr. Niles Crane line, ‘An exquisite meal with one tiny flaw we can pick on all night’ in that there was, at times, insufficient modulation in relation to abstraction. Others may disagree. There are a wide range of sub-texts and language play that bite and that one can chew on for some time. In some cases, I was in awe and at others annoyed. Such are the many pleasures of the poems.

 

– the history of rainstorm is a naked door

– the waiter will be back, scuffed and literary, granting the acceptable

– a knife recalls blue humidity as a family instrument

– mimosa is composed of Seville

– the ingenious often chant arm in arm with tentative cymbals

– sincerity is equally rated with chamber activity

– the oboe is the flamenco’s counterattack

 

This section from ’39 Fragments On A Pebble Beach’ illustrates some of the rich diversity in this collection and her neo-aphorisms.

 

At the book’s core is a clear narrative voice gleefully indulging in gestures and speech acts:

 

I firmly think that unless this luster of excitement is not withdrawn

from the breast cavity, the jutting out acceleration of surprise will

indicate a double hollow of indulgence. I may collapse. Or a

beautiful avant-garde discourse might ensue and pulsate joy

beyond belief.

 

The book’s title is apt as a number of meanings of suspension come into play throughout. There are at times discord and dissonance as well as the sense of something being discontinued, the condition of being suspended, and a chemical mixing and the state of being dispersed. It is a collection where the sub-texts, often unsaid, outweigh the main theme albeit anchored by an incisive physicality and reverberation. It is an undoubted strength and part of the book’s abiding pleasure.

 

David Caddy 27th March 2014

Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking

Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking

Colin Winborn suggested that I might enjoy Shannon Tharp’s The Cost Of Walking (Skysill Press, 2011) and he was right!

 

This thoughtful collection, which begins with an H.D. preface, ‘Better the wind, the sea, the salt, / in your eyes, / than this, this, this’, references the possibilities of loss by not confronting the weather, the unseen and unknown. In a series of succinct meditative poems, Tharp gestures towards other approaches and possibilities in any movement between two points. The poems balance short suggestive, philosophical, statements with a concrete imagery gravitated around the weather, felt as both physical and psychological, and travel.

 

Northerly

 

In conditions less

than perfect,

what I make out through

 

rain – happening a-

gain in a

slow diagonal –

 

white hearse, green graveyard,

little else

save for what isn’t.

 

Tharp avoids the pitfalls of pure abstraction by centering the poems within a knowing inner voice, and conversely avoids the downside of subjectivity by looking outwards through distance and separation.  The narrator is aware of division, of the split self, of things falling between, of small movements. The short, often understated, poems expand outwards by means of a few words, whereas the longer poems, such as ‘Chasing Landmarks’, ‘Travelogue’,  ‘Practice’, dedicated to Jack Spicer, and ‘High Rise’ impact cumulatively and succinctly. The book is a feast of composite layering, as in for example, ‘Morning (With William Bronk)’ which starts ‘The world, what we took / for the world, / is breaking. Breaking!’ and ends ‘And we are / equally alive.’ One feels blessed to encounter such acute brevity and depth. This is compelling and strong poetry.

 

Orchard

 

A god-

thought

 

field

where

 

even

rain

 

loses

heart

 

when

shadows’

 

shadows

fall

 

as they

ought.

 

 

The collection coheres and beguiles in equal measurement.

It is a remarkable achievement.

 

 

David Caddy  January 16th 2014

 

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