The Sounding Machine


25 Points: The Sounding Machine

sounding_machine_frontcover_mdThe Sounding Machine
by Patty Paine
Accents Publishing, 2012
71 pages / $12.00 buy from Accents Publishing








1. “Still” is a poem about a girl, in her stepfather’s bedroom, holding the “unspooled” film of frames showing “Linda Lovelace’s bottomless / throat” against “curtained light.”

2. The girl’s ears are “cocked / for gravel beneath tires.”

3. She is afraid that her stepfather will return, angry.

4. “Still” is a poem about abuse, and how the memory of that abuse is wrapped and “swallowed” like the “first flash of desire”; that “chasm / of silence, her mouth.”

5. “Still” is not the first poem of The Sounding Machine, but the one I returned to the most. Paine’s collection accumulates, but “Still” is the best pivot.

6. The Sounding Machine hurts.

7. This is a book about grief, focused on the loss of a mother. So Nyo Kim. A woman who married an American soldier during the Korean War. The narrator of many poems in this collection–apparently So Nyo’s daughter–is nearly peeling with this grief.

8. “Sometimes I stop looking/ in mirrors.” “Sometimes I feel / like a child with holes / in my pockets, every day losing / some small stone of myself.”

9. The Sounding Machine made me feel, but Paine was also able to control me, to wire me shut with words. “Ars Poetica” warns that “there are days / when language is heavy furniture you push around / a house made of nothing / but hallways.” The narrator admits “sometimes a poem can lie.”

10. But I want to believe her lies. READ MORE >

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March 12th, 2013 / 1:30 pm