by Julian Brolaski
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011
104 pages / $15.00 Buy from UDP
We no longer reveal totality within ourselves by lightning flashes. We approach it through the accumulation of sediments.
– Edouard Glissant
Every word in gowanus atropolis carries the traces of having been moved, altered, shifted. Even the undergirding of the lines and stanzas feels rearranged and restructured to create a different kind of progression, far from a logical exposition. Both syntax and spelling have been remade: “one ynvents a grammatical order / (& haf done).” We are in a specific post-industrial space, the New York City around the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, and we are listening to an elegy for the pastoral in a stridently non-pastoral setting, a polluted landscape struggling to survive. The experience of this landscape through words is only possible, Julian Brolaski seems to be saying, once everything has been pushed off its foundations a bit, with everything askance, a little slanted by the inclusion of a slew of portmanteaus, archaic words, macaronics, neologisms, transpronouns like xe, and of-the-moment slang. Suddenly even the most obvious and brutal contemporary slang seems bizarre and highlighted in the mass of new or n-used words. In the thicket of all these strange words, there are some we recognize, some which very few readers could ever possibly know and then others that no one has ever read on the page before. These (queer) words open up all sorts of possible readings, mis-readings and failed readings, and they also open up a space for play, for contradiction and confusion, for being lost.
August 5th, 2011 / 12:00 pm