On Poems On
by Sandra Liu
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012
28 pages / $8 Buy from UDP
Even though there’s nothing particularly insular or fragmentary about Sandra Liu’s work, it’s still difficult to grasp exactly what’s going on in the book because of the restless nature of the poems’ wanderings through landscape, experience, character and image. Nominally this is free verse written in standard syntax, but individual lines or sentences in Liu’s poems aren’t trustworthy indicators of what might come next. This is always a good thing, because the unpredictability adds to the poems’ allure and as I read through the chapbook I found myself drawn closer and closer to whatever sharp turn the poem might next, unless there’s no sharp turn or the poem cuts off abruptly. The poems in On Poems On are a ceaseless lateral movement along or between landscapes either literal, linguistic, or informative that leave you with a sense of having visited a location or moment without being allowed to linger long enough for details of daily life to become mundane.
This isn’t to say that the poems are particularly wild, save for the punctuations throughout the book of often deadly violence; the work is measured and light, and could pass as graceful observational poetry if there weren’t more at work, like the aforementioned violence. A good example of this is “Static,” in which dryly delivered information about the geography of and south of Indonesia is woven together with scenes of rioting crowds gunned down by state forces:
archipelago, grenades, AK-47s,
household bombs and machetes alternate with an underwater
topography, flats of nadir in several areas of the city and extended airscaping
leading to Halmahera,
itself comprising four peninsulas, each,
a 12-year-old boy, drawn out by congeries of islets,
traversed by SUV.
October 12th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
Periodically Speaking hosts SUPERMACHINE and 6X6 (UGLY DUCKLING PRESSE) magazines—
Ben Fama and Matvei Yankelevich in conversation with
(and readings by):
Founders of influential literary mags 6X6, SUPERMACHINE, and the former GERM, with writers they’ve published over the years, discuss the past, present and future of literary publishing, after brief readings.
Tuesday, April 12 · 6:00pm – 7:30pm
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room, The New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building @ 5th Ave & 42nd Street
New York, NY
April 10th, 2011 / 12:19 pm
In some dizzying crinkle of web logic, I’d like to share not only a post on another blog but the comment stream of that post, which features an interesting discussion of small press successes, funding, avant-garde tendencies, dissonance/dissent, and the CIA.
The post in question is Shonni Enelow’s spotlight of Brooklyn-based Ugly Duckling Presse, which publishes strange and exciting poetry, including lots of work-in-translation, and all in editions of carefully made book objects that preserve bookmaking as an art unto itself. They’ve published great books by Eugene Ostashevsky, Tomas Salamun, and Laura Solomon. They published Dodie Bellamy’s Barf Manfesto, which is terrific, and Aram Saryon’s Complete Minimal Poems, which won the William Carlos William Award in 2008. That’s not the controversy. Controversy after the jump!