by Stephanie Anderson
$16 | August 2018
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Reading Stephanie Anderson’s astonishing new book is like discovering a foreign country in a corner of your own home, a space where a ghost can live in your hair, where the purchase of a Le Crueset rearranges the atmosphere, where it’s possible to calmly lose a car, and where “We don’t imagine the / scene: / We inhabit it.” Perhaps that foreign country in the corner was always there, but we needed these poems as a passport to notice it, to see “the millions / of little dots that constitute the diva” or the “writing material made of strips / of parachute.” The marvelous multidisciplinary navigations in this book are accompanied by images from a celestial navigation manual, the flute part of a Bach sonata, and language from literary explorers of the eerie and wonderful like Dante and Edgar Allen Poe. Brilliant and exquisitely crafted, these poems will pierce you with their love of language and their willingness to make that beloved language strange. I adored inhabiting this country, following the peregrinations of a poet who calls herself “a demander for glimmer,” and finding as I followed her an ever-startling, ever-shining adventure. —Cecily Parks
Personal, dark and really interesting poems, made in “conceptual” framework — and there are words of others — turned into what happened to oneself. Very good ear here, and place, and descriptions of moments not hithertofore described in poetry. Hear the form itself quietly sing and sting. (I read this book on a transAtlantic flight, in the middle seat, and transcended my environment.) —Alice Notley
In an intricately threaded sequence called “Ratiocination,” Stephanie Anderson refers to “Writing the backward-fracking self,” and certainly her poems can be read as a series of prompts, procedures and performances precisely demonstrating this “backward-fracking” of identity and subjectivity. Here, the practices of archaeology and extraction retrieve a deeply interconnected, reunified understanding of speaker, object and landscape, rather than deepening the trenches drawn between us. They are re-constructive acts, through which the poet’s voice refuses to be mined out of the world, but rather presents itself as a dynamic field in which what “you say,” what they say, and what initially doesn’t appear to be speech at all but, as Anderson reveals, demands recognition and audience from us (“rock chiseling,” “cloud stuff,” “flight paths”), shimmer and coalesce. We shouldn’t limit ourselves by assuming any of these poems’ speakers are human; what we know instead is that they have experienced loss and trauma, they move steadily between different climates and seasons, they might be documented in film but have chosen the form of poetry, they are animated by repetition, and whether or not we’ve noticed them somewhere else before, we only see now that, all along, they have been offering solace in the face of violence. And in the end, as Anderson writes in “Remembering in Third Person,” “Look what we have / established: / It is possible to have / a conversation with / a stranger.” —Mia You
About the Author
Stephanie Anderson is also the author of In the Key of Those Who Can No Longer Organize Their Environments and Lands of Yield (both from Horse Less Press), as well as several chapbooks. She co-edits the micropress Projective Industries and currently lives in Beijing.