You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake

Anna Moschovakis, Coffee House Press (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (119p) ISBN 978-1-56689-250-6
If the title of Moschovakis's second collection reads like a textbook logic problem, it's because Moschovakis not only confronts her readers with a series of logical and philosophical dilemmas but also questions the possibility of such investigation. "You have your axes," Moschovakis tells us, but "[w]hat, precisely, is your procedure?" For Moschovakis, the procedures are several; the book appropriates form and language from sources ranging from computer chat programming to the writings of Emmanuel Levinas to records of an 18th-century French hunting excursion. Although the poems also draw on autobiographical detail, Moschovakis is more interested in probing the conditions of the poetic act than in any traditional lyric subjectivity: when she writes that "[i]n the application of any system/ of perfecting/ the machine/ no two persons/ will succeed/ equally" it is clear that she intends the proposition to level, not to individualize. Throughout the book, Moschovakis maintains a strongly clinical detachment even in the face of cultural crisis. Yet if it is cynicism that drives Moschovakis to inhabit structures of capitalism, technology, consumerism, Western philosophy, and religion, the assumption of these various positions nevertheless allows a necessary poetry of critique: her poems subject each of these structures to constant, and troubling, poetic pressure from within. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 01/01/2011
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