Some Beheadings

Aditi Machado. Nightboat, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-937658-73-1
Machado’s steadfast and rigorous debut exists at the intersection of language and place, where thinking takes the shape of a tree or a thicket of “florid logic” that grows and branches in multiple directions at once. “I describe my day to myself as if I were perambulating through infinite foliage,” she writes. The images take readers across time and space: to fields dotted with grazing ruminants; deserts whose “labial dunes” double as runes; and, in an oblique reference to the film Last Year at Marienbad, a Marienbad where a “single baroque animal/ opens a pomegranate” and “ancient civilizations spill out as red beads.” Though the focus of the text meanders, the first-person perspective offers a sense of immediacy; in other words, however disembodied the thinking, and however omnidirectional the thought, the speaker grounds ideas with notions of physicality: “Can you wake up/ from a sentence like/ you wake up on the porch?” Machado’s luscious descriptions—themselves “a mild decadence, an explicit/ industry as that of bees”—exude a palpable strangeness, and the speaker welcomes constant change and movement without requiring a resolution. The result is a labyrinthine sensorium where thinking about thinking generates ever more pleasures. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/18/2017
Release date: 10/03/2017
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