Yeah No

Jane Gregory. The Song Cave, $17.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-9988290-2-9
“I think things are, weird,” writes Gregory (My Enemies) in a line that stands as an apt summation of her startling second collection. Here, punctuation and enjambment jolt expected rhythms, and the simplicity of the language rasps against the complexity of the thoughts. Of the book’s 31 poems, 22 are titled some variation of the word “Profices,” from the Latin proficio, and the collection’s title announces an inquisition into notions of progress. What, exactly, could the phrase yeah no be said to mean? Is it self-negation or something new? Is it a commentary on how social and technological progress continually dis- and re-orients people in language? “Everything is a pattern/ of yesses and no,” Gregory writes in an appropriately cryptic response to would-be interlocutors. Gregory has no desire to adhere to conventions of language, tickling readers with deliberate misspellings throughout (“vortexx,” “survivre,” “lifht”) as a reminder that nothing is stable. Her exacting linguistic imprecision gets mirrored in the formal play, which grows more expansive and jarring as the collection advances. She also unexpectedly drops in stunning and sparse moments of elegy and ode: “no offense will love what I defend// even unknown// to me// I will care for you.” Gregory’s probing and demanding collection grows more rewarding with each subsequent read. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
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