Absence Is Such a Transparent House

Aby Kaupang. Tebot Bach (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (82p) ISBN 978-1-893670-69-3
Kaupang calls each of the four main sections of her debut a "symphysis," the anatomical term for a cartilaginous fusion between two bones, a term not only symptomatic of the linguistic strangeness that pervades the collection but that also hints at Kaupang's project: we might see the book as working toward a fusion of worlds, inhabiting the liminal spaces between life and death, presence and absence, individual and community, "now" and eternity. With an almost Dickinsonian obsession with the edges of mortality and the beginnings of divinity, these poems resist standard conceptions of time, narrative, form, selfhood, image, and even language. "Anxiety/ is a form the form I took/ on dying," Kaupang writes, and "no// syntax is long remembered." Kaupang imagines the self as a product of the words it speaks: "tongue and self/ are a steeple," the site of continued attempts "to translate/ my god." The pervasive sense of disruption or unease, however, leads to morbid and sublime discoveries, and to exciting poems: for Kaupang, death is an "un-transcribable surprise." This book is a brave and startling endeavor, exploring the possibilities for poetic language in the face of unexpected—and inevitable—loss. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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