tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > iEpiphany

iEpiphany by Amy Catanzano
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bookshelves: poetry

Amy Catanzano is one of my GoodReads friends. I'm happy that this is the case. I'll usually only agree to befriending someone on GR if they seem to be sincerely interested in reading &, if they've approached me for the befriending, if their motives don't seem to be purely self-promotional. Then, if they're writers & their work seems interesting to me, I propose trading bks or whatnot. That's the case here. THEN, I must read them & review them HONESTLY - from the heart or the gut or wherever my 'best' qualities metaphorically (or not) reside.

As I TRY to write this review, I find myself circling around the actual CONTENT of it in favor of all sorts of things attached to it, surrounding it. I do hope to circle in eventually.

1st, there're Amy's reviews of other bks (here on GR, ie). She's gotten me very interested in Laura Moriarity. & she's one of the 5 or so reviewers whose reviews I've taken a strong interest in here - EXCEPT FOR her giving of every bk reviewed a 5 star rating. NOW, for those of you who've read my review of Alan Davies' "Mnemonotechnics" you know that Alan & I both have recently critiqued this 5-stars-in-every-review - esp when there's not actually a REVIEW accompanying it! But Amy actually DOES review & she seems to only review things she DOES love - so I doubt that she'd be writing a review of some hack bk on The Bermuda Triangle (or some such) & giving it 5 stars. HOWEVER, she may know many of these authors personally (or hope to) & may want to be friends w/ them - & might, therefore, be unwilling to take the risk of offending them &/OR may just be a very POSITIVE person - I suspect this latter is very true indeed.

SO, this brings me to the 2nd layer of my circling in: the 2 poetry bks of hers that she sent me (this & "Multiversal") have personalized inscriptions. Now, I've often eschewed signing bks - it's particularly rare that I sign them - but that's for reasons that I no longer ascribe to (scribe to?). I have to admit that the bks that I have from friends that're signed are, indeed, precious to me (even though this very 'preciousness' was part of my afore-mentioned eschewal). The inscription here is:

"for
tENTATIVELY,
a cONVENIENCE
pg.13
"WE SAy RADio
BUT MEAN RADiCAL."

WITH THANKS AND ADMIRATION,
Amy Catanzano
2010"

& she drew 3 stars around the bk's title.

The quote from her poem on page 13 is actually relevant to a series of CDs that I've published of RATical RATio. I deduce Amy knows about these (despite their extreme obscurity) OR IS THIS A PHENOMENAL COINCIDENCE?! How can I not be touched by that? I'd like to think that this lovely & touching inscription alone wd be enuf reason for most reviewers to 'wax poetic' about the brilliance of this bk - & to, of course, rate it w/ 5 stars (or 3 - in honor of the drawing part of her inscription). HOWEVER, I intend to do no such thing here. There'll be no rating & the review won't gush. Giving anything but my best shot at a serious review here wd be shallow.

Circling, circling: the bk is small, it's published by Anne Waldman's Erudite Fangs press. Anne Waldman is no slouch & that right there perks my interest. But here's where my 1st criticism comes in - the physical bk has no TRUE INDIVIDUALISM. It has no personalized touches in its actual manufacture, it's not an ARTISTS BK. That's not so bad in & of itself but I admit that what often truly sucks me into an object is when it REEKS OF INDIVIDUALITY & CREATIVITY AT EVERY LEVEL - Steve McCaffery's incredible "CARNIVAL - the first panel: 1967-70" on Coach House Press (1973) can be taken apart & pieced together into one large glorious sheet of virtuosic typing; Lawrence Upton's 'THE TRE MOR" is rubber-stamped w/ 2 different inks on a paper towel. But, sometimes, the interesting external aspects often encase writing that I don't find nearly as interesting.

Perhaps "iEpiphany"'s been printed by a print-on-demand press, perhaps the publisher gets reduced publisher printing rates if they print 5 bks a yr. That makes it practical to print small poetry bks w/o any expensive or demanding characteristics. That's all well & good. I'm just as grateful, if not more so, as the next writer that these print-on-demand businesses exist. Their downside, however, is that all the clevernesses that many of us explore(d) pre-print-on-demand, partially b/c just finding a way to even DO IT was often difficult, are made too easily gone. Small presses have been 'mainstreamized'. Gone are pouring multiple inks into the Gestetner ink drum, gone are the using some surplus bulk material as the cover. It's all standardized.

On the PLUS side, in the back of the bk there's an explanation re the "green press INITIATIVE" that explains how the printing of the bk uses fewer trees, pollutes less water, etc.. It's thanks to the greater efficient organization & eco-socio-friendliness of such printers that I feel like there really IS some improvement here. But I'm still circling..

On the back of the bk there're 2 reviews of it by Lyn Hejinian & Laura Moriarity. Both reviews are GLOWING - after all they're back-cover promo. & these reviews interest me - will I get as much out of reading this as these 2 writers did? One can only hope so!!

Hejinian writes:

"The iEpiphanies that follow are nothing less than glimpses of light moving through time: light and time, intertwined."

Whew! & Moriarity writes:

"iEpiphany proposes a futuristic lyric that implodes upon impact. These poems are infinitely complex and yet completely clear - and they know what they want."

These reviewers LOVED this bk. I wonder if they've also communicated w/ Catanzano about it & gotten input from her as to her feelings & intentions. Whatever the case, I feel 'compelled' to question: Isn't everything "infinitely complex" &, if not, is any human product likely to be so? As for "completely clear"? Not to me, nope, not to me. But, then, my mind glazes over when I read poetry & technical manuals.

One of my entry points into Catanzano's work is my 'knowledge' (highly limited though it is) that Amy has an interest in such things as mathematics, science, pataphysics, & the Church of the SubGenius. As such, I expect the writing to be informed w/ such a sensibility. & I do find traces of a similar incisiveness here to that of Christopher Dewdney - whose writing I've taken an interest in from time to time & who also poetically reforms science. Perhaps it's the malformed scientist in me that asked the questions in the preceding paragraph. If such astounding claims are to be made, I'd like to see them 'proved' - by wch I mean substantiated. &, perhaps, Moriarity cd do it - I have no reason to believe otherwise &, after all, the review on the back is limited by space - it's promotional - not an essay. &, again perhaps, there's the contents of the bk itself in wch I can look for substantiation.

So what do I find inside? Some fairly meticulously written work, very neat, no mistakes that I found (Maybe this press even PROOFREADS?! That wd be practically miraculous in this day & age of small presses. Maybe Amy is really that careful.).

Hejinian & Moriarity both use the word "lyric" in their reviews & when I think of "lyric" I think of singing so I read this & imagine them sung. I don't mean as sound poetry, I mean using melodies that one might remember. &, yes, in some cases, I can see it (or hear it or imagine it) & in others not. But, no, I don't personally think of this as "lyric poetry". To me, it's more pared-down discursiveness - w/ an occasional repetitiveness of imagery that smacks of particular vocabulary.

There're feathers & birds & birds-eye views & building inside one's self:


p 16:

"Like the city inside yourself, golden, ruminative, you
build a planet for your binding."

p. 20:

"Like lightning
the heroes inside us
build lunar
colonies."

&, then , in "periodic." she writes:

"This is more like the science fiction of genre than the
genre of science fiction."

&, that, for me, whether intended this way or not, is a very elegant way of summarizing this bk. It cd be a summary of any poetry that uses scientific reference w/o being straight-forward expository:

"Between networks and the old systems theory
Interpretations
And always the non-lucid geometry of nature"

&, that, too, for me, is a description of this bk. It strikes me that Amy tries to LOCATE something in her poetry:

p 49: "soothsaying" w/o the proper justification:

"yet geographically,
most flashes are experienced
above ground.
There are flashes and flashes that displace us.
Many formations of the flashes
are out of print.
Air is the spin of crystalline
quartz
scrolling symmetrically down the
page"

This poetry isn't concrete, it's full of simile & metaphor. Is it in that sense that it's "lyric"? & the similes & metaphors seem to conflate the (often dubious) rigor of science w/ the psychic sensitivity & fine-tuned openness of poetry & creative acts in general. Amy is a fine-tuned being, more finely tuned than any mechanism of measure - so her measurements inscribe the edges of life-in-motion w/o pinning it down to death.
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message 1: by Amy (last edited Jun 10, 2010 12:09PM) (new)

Amy Dear tENT,

Thanks for your response. I am honored by your critical attention and kind words, the way you thoughtfully took into account different elements (relationship, production, content, community), and your many beautiful sentences. Funny but no, I wasn’t aware of your ratical ratio project. Though I think one thing art does is transmit through culture on sight-invisible frequencies like radio waves, which travel at the speed of light—invisible to one sense (our ordinary perception) and detectable by another (our imagination) if we turn ourselves on and if the art itself is aware of its radio form. At the same time I was thinking about how we use codes or become coded to communicate: we say radio but mean radical. We ascribe meaning not just by what is said but how and why. I chose that phrase for the inscription because it speaks to my understanding of your extraordinary work as a cultural innovator and artist, which boldly transmits its own individually-carved frequencies outside the mediocrity of the mainstream. Yet it seems this alone isn’t what makes your work radical; it’s the innovative forms your work takes, a result of your rigorous experimentation and energy combined with a very pataphysical openness to chance and absurdity. Connecting with your work in these ways teaches me more about mine. The inscription could have been its own transmission, and the fact that it is relevant to your project could mean the transmission was successful: it traveled.

My best, and with deep thanks,
Amy


tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE You're welcome. As anyone 'knows' who follows my attempts at poetry reviews, I find reading & reviewing poetry deeply problematic. Many people have considered me to be a 'poet' at one time or another & I've tried to discourage this. I use various terms to describe my writing - eg: when it's promotional, I call myself a "Practicing Promotextual" - a pun, of course, off of the phrase that I've always found so funny: "practicing homosexual". When I use puns (more or less always) I call myself a "Homonymphonemiac", when I write in a form meant to reinforce the content I call the results "concrete essays".

At any rate, you're turning out to be an interesting new friend & I'm genuinely glad to be making contact.

ALSO, I'm glad you found my review of "iEpiphany" "thoughtful". There's actually more that I cd've, &, perhaps, shd've sd - such as the way the title resonates w/ me. I'm interested in what I call "artificially catalyzing epiphanies", eg. Having the word begin w/ a lower case "i" is, of course, reminscent of e. e. cummings & of anyone who refers to themselves w/ the lower case "i" for such reasons as to make "I" less egotistical. &, of course, there's "i.e." (that is) in there too. That is, the less-egotistical epiphany of self, eg?


message 3: by Amy (last edited Jun 10, 2010 12:39PM) (new)

Amy Is my iE like your tE? iAmiEyeiUiFlyiHighiTryiJestiTestiTimeiWhy


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