cover image VOCODER


Judith Goldman, . . Roof, $10.95 (93pp) ISBN 978-0-937804-89-6

"I guess someone is a king of France & apart/ from whom nobody is a king of France. Same/ rockstar, different poem. I like icons/ & the toxic halos of figureheads, I like/ to beat people up & rehash among the swan./ I was born in captivity, having/ fucked the right people, thick/ in the France of it." Demonstrating the true flare of a moral exhibitionist, these 19 poems (no two alike in form) take stands while not letting the wheels stop spinning on some stable, prefab punk identity; every gesture of this debut, even when remaining within the range of the lyric, pointedly grabs at pure sonic momentum as a bulwark against interpretive certainty: "don't know this form is a fetish/ to lost-generate emptied myths, a garish/ riven fortune of united negation." Like younger women poets such as Jennifer Moxley and Lisa Robertson, Goldman often takes the tones and tropes of the patriarchal literary tradition and twists them into new shapes, thus fracturing the certainties of the master discourses (check the Bertrand Russell allusion above) and slamming us out of our subservient pieties: "you'll be in chains,/ a warning./ you should get over it." But Goldman is distinctive in her ability to start a thread of meaning—absurd, denunciatory, lyrical or otherwise—and hover just below rational discourse, and just above Lenny Bruce's shade. (The title reference to the 1970's voice processor used by the Electric Light Orchestra and others only widens the bandwidth.) The humor, the daring, the deft work with the line—all are immediate on first reading, hence not only supporting but mainlining Goldman's overriding argument: that social emancipation is not just the right to survive under the umbrella of global capital, but the right to a—however convulsively discordant—voice. (May)