cover image Motion Studies

Motion Studies

Jena Osman. Ugly Duckling, $20 (144p) ISBN 978-1-946433-23-7

The sixth book from Osman (Corporate Relations) considers material artifacts of scientific inquiry (Victorian specimens, brain scans, and “the band/ placed across the wrist/ an elastic tongue of steel” among them) through a documentary poetics style. A compilation of three essay-poems, a hybrid text composed of prose poems, lyric essays, and graphic poetry, the writing in this innovative volume reads as much as a meditation on scientific history as a treatise on its own artistic practice. As Osman asserts: “The language of cure is the language of knowing where you are on the map.” Her writing excels in its self-reflexive use of language, frequently deconstructing its own movement (and Osman’s own work as a creative practitioner). She brings the “inscribing apparatus” to bear on questions of aesthetic pleasure and, in the style of Walter Pater, innovation for the sheer delight of the innovator. Though dexterous in its blending of experimental forms and academic disciplines, Osman sometimes leaves the stakes of this experimentation unclear and lacking in urgency. As Osman writes: “I was hitting up against a language problem.” Through rich and interesting archival materials, the book highlights Osman’s lyrical skill and expert craftsmanship. (May)