Salo Press has recently started a chapbook series deliciously named The Flirtations.
Descansos, by Katherine Osborne is the second flirtation. It is a collection of poems that thread declaratives, dialogue and ominous pseudo-mythic pronouncements to build a kind of stream-of-consciousness from inside the witch’s cauldron.
Like all poetry, a lot of it is about setting boundaries as you go. Reading poetry is like playing a game where you not only discover the rules as you go, but that you also might be asked to flip the board and go the other way at any time.
Poems like these don’t necessarily want answers to their questions, and mostly spends time turning the “you” of the poems into something else — through renaming, the giving of roles, instructions.
The prose poems stand out most, being so unbroken and without breath. Here’s one from later in the collection.
Anne Carson speaks about wanting to turn each word against the previous word, so there is an opposition and tension throughout poetry — this is how you create the folds in her work, that creation of a new idea through stretching something so tight that it turns in on itself. Katherine does this throughout, “I pay you something so now you can mansion off the grid” or “swimbound body” pushing up against “dragging” from the water and the “boat fire”. In the poem above, we have the ending “Victory speech” as the undercutting punchline. We also have the joyous verbing of things like “the other animals are being meadowed to death”
In the same way we move around whatever form of story arc there is, we’re asked to “skip to the end” — assumedly missing the long drive and the boring part in the middle. This happens repeatedly, because we are receiving a story told orally somehow, the language is not interrupted by the fact it is written down. The speaker is at liberty to take us where they like.
There is something defeated about the world in Descansos, not just in lamenting dying planet being mined and other ecological disasters — tied to notions of our own energy or value — we are told: “Wrong things happen / Without any effort”. And later, in Magical Thinking we are told “my friend, you were not the the one that hurt the animals” — this kind of distancing and reassurance, with the continued suggestion that there are rescuers out there in the form of first responders and emergency contacts out of breath — tells us that we are in need of rescue. The idea is close at hand that we are in peril somehow, not in control and also doing damage to those around us.
Pick up Descansos from Salo Press here.
I had something published, finally, in Human Repair Kit, it’s the first attempt at the whole “read a book, steal some phrases, make a poem” process that I use in a lot of my shorter poems now. It’s really nice that the first thing I wrote in this style is published at the end of 2018. You can see a list of everything I have published this year, here, RTs much appreciated. I may have mentioned it before, but what I didn’t mention was that apparently my new year’s challenge last year was to have something published somewhere. I think I managed it, just about.
Our dearest Sam has some new poems up in Bitchin’ Kitsch — which is very lovingly laid out. I enjoyed Gaps particularly.
Dostoyevsky Wannabe are calling out for flash fiction about falling in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with, or something.
Thanks for reading ETTO, again. It was written by @CJEggett, with barely any thought to the consequences of his actions. Me commuting to my first day of work 2019. You making wise style choices. Us, but you decide which one is the egg.