cover image Foreign Native

Foreign Native

Lisa Samuels. Black Radish, $17 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-0-9979524-8-3

Multi-genre writer Samuels (Symphony for Human Transport) brings contemporary experimental writing into dialogue with a modernist literary inheritance in this daring collection. She frequently pays homage to her literary predecessors through appropriation, deriving titles for these finely crafted poems from the writings of Ezra Pound (“Portrait d’une Femme”), William Blake (“Auguries of Innocence”), and many other literary greats. Samuels develops an innovative approach to the poetic line. As the book unfolds, she frequently uses enjambment to interrupt, rupture, and obfuscate meaning, suggesting that form and the strictures of an inherited tradition are types of violence done to voice and narrative. She writes in “Group Hug,” “Like the disinherited run of/ the family that scampers off/ to its unsettlement have they not// All become Modern.” The poem’s opening tercets unravel as it progresses, utilizing line breaks to unleash a proliferation of meaning, rather than to clarify rhythm or cadence. This disruptive lineation takes many forms throughout the book, becoming a source of both “wonder” and “unsettlement.” In many ways, this conceptual framework reads as an extension of the modernist tradition out of which this book arises, as much as a challenge or a reimagining. Samuels implements textual difficulty as an aesthetic gesture in a move as bold as it is necessary. (Apr.)