PEN CHANTS or nth or 12 spirit-like impermanences

Melissa Wolsak, Author, Lissa Wolsak, Author PEN CHANTS or nth or 12 spirit-like impermanences

Brandishing a startlingly strange vocabulary that recalls Jackson Mac Low's Light Poems, the Vancouver-based Wolsak, a metalsmith by trade, constructs poems that, as promised in the title, manage an ethereal impermanence yet are still somehow solidly cast: "equal to palm is bamboo/ osier, sauvis, rhus/ no less esteemed than/ purplish-black stems of maidenhair/ endrenched rye-grass or lilthtops or/ old arborescence." There is a subtle negotiation at work in these texts, as the text mimics a rooted structure and then veers outward, or upward, in a gothic reach: "save us from/ intoxicating glances/ forgive the ardent things we/ understood to be static/ it is my grief." In previous small press releases—The Garcia Family Co-Mercy, a book-length poem from 1994, and last year's "poetic-essay," "An Heuristic Prolusion"—Wolsak infused sociopolitical advocacy with lyrical abandon, and these poems similarly hunger for both song and experience, without apology for such penchants. This third book-length work continues the attempt at sustained thought "abstracted from love" in the face of "competition for victim status." The resulting alternating abstractions and hyper-lexical extensions won't be for everyone, but others will find in them a truth "untied from/ malevolence of misrecognition." (Mar. 1)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 01/01/2000
Genre: Poetry
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