Flower Cart

Lisa Fishman. Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $17.50 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-934103-21-0
Brevity, oddity, familial joys and intermittent worries, and delight in rural space have come to be what we expect from Fishman (The Happiness Experiment), and they are among the goods she delivers here, though in an unexpected form. Her pages of untitled, fragmentary utterance, mixed with what sound like quotations from childhood diaries, make the whole project seem like a single poem, moving between fact and dream, between 1980, 1910, and 2011, in order to trace the continuity of domestic experience, while keeping us alert to historical change. Provocative, bare lists ("waffle iron/ follow-up/ document/ tom boy/ solitary/ blossom") join excerpts from old phrasebooks: "Please tell me why you are leaving/ What did you buy?/ What did you say?" The volume gets further from conventional, self-enclosed lyric as readers move through it, encountering, toward the end, 15 facsimile pages from a 1910 workbook called "Trees I Have Seen," and then a few pages blank except for such admonitions as "Do not kneel." Fishman's rough song, short phrases, and southern Wisconsin locale inspire comparisons to Lorine Niedecker. Fishman remains among the friendliest of experimental poets, inviting us into her time machine, into her game. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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