Titanic

Cecilia Corrigan. Lake Forest College/&Now Books (Northwestern Univ., dist.), $16.95 trade paper (166p) ISBN 978-1-941423-99-8
Former television writer Corrigan places Alan Turing at the center of a bizarrely playful debut collection. The blurred continuum between technology and humanity—where does one end and the other begin?—has long been a poetic trope, but it’s rare for a book to perceive the contemporary moment so authentically, let alone presciently. Corrigan achieves this by refusing to limit her work to a prescribed set of forms; its lexical, thematic, and narrative landscapes vary as to appear otherworldly. Her poem “The Phenomenon of Fantasy Football Teams Signifies a Lot of Things” transforms from a mock spreadsheet into stanzas that reuse the table’s language before becoming a letter to a mother about “our earthly existence.” Poems move in and out of talk shows, scenes and characters and rationales come and go—the whole of the book a series of rapidly shifting events. The experience of reading it, while disorienting, can be exhilarating; the musculature of taut poetic lines and earned insight keep it going, as “Still we are bound, destined to endeavor, and to the critical./ Why did you never tell me how sweet it is: the rational?” The book flaunts intentional errors and is also quite funny: “I overstate, saying that having a body was just/ hell on so many levels, no homo.” Many readers will find Corrigan’s lines to be nonsense, but for those ready for a hybrid ride, here is the ticket. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/18/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
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