Monsters I Have Been

Kenji C. Liu. Alice James, $15.95 (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-98-5
Liu’s second book confronts a range of subjects, among them “government sponsored fascism,” god, and love. Though thematically various, the book strives for formal unity, as each poem is written using the same generative process. Of this “frankenpo,” Liu writes that he aims to “create a new poetic text by collecting, disaggregating, randomizing, rearranging, recombining, erasing, and reanimating one or more chosen bodies of text, for the purpose of divining or revealing new meanings often at odds with the original texts.” Reminiscent of Yedda Morrison’s Darkness, which transforms Conrad’s Heart of Darkness into an ecopoetics text, Liu’s work posits appropriation, chance, and juxtaposition as ways of transforming the injustices of an imperialistic language. In “Empire Strikes,” he writes: “Great ears of the people stolen, deathly half governors, and bureaucracy, that unstoppable depletion.” Liu’s poems strive to reclaim agency by making the language of the colonizers serve values at odds with its politics. Liu relishes the absurd and the happenstance, that “tornado gorgeous” that becomes possible with a non-utilitarian approach to language. While the project proves conceptually compelling, some readers may find the execution lacking as this writing process often fails to reveal meaning or transformation beyond seemingly random juxtapositions: “Activate interlocks. Dyna-therms connected. I could leap through a fruity pebble donut.” As Liu himself writes, “Together we are a pair of lonely questions.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/19/2019
Release date: 04/01/2019
Genre: Poetry
Ebook - 978-1-948579-54-4
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