tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Colorado Review

Colorado Review by Stephanie G'Schwind
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bookshelves: biography, literature, poetry

I got this publication b/c my girlfriend, Amy Catanzano, gave it to me. She has a piece in it entitled "Choose Your Own Adventure". The 2nd-to-the-last-line of this is "If galaxies have no relative motion themselves, make a paper airplane from this page and fly it." At my request, Amy ripped this page out, made a plane from it, & flew it. Let the record show that this was not meant to indicate that I believe that "galaxies have no relative motion themselves". Perhaps I wd've chosen to follow the last line if I'd felt capable: "If the space between galazies is expanding, and this is happening at a particular point in space and at a particular time, fly yourself." Then again, maybe I AM flying away from the center of the galaxy I'm in.

Ok, this is the part where I'm bound to rub someone the wrong way. After the Editor's Page(s) this starts off w/ fiction & the fiction REEKED of 'I LEARNED TO WRITE THIS WAY IN COLLEGE'. If you wonder what such a thing might smell like, read just about any university literary journal. You'll be desperately reaching for IDIOSYNCRACIES as an antidote. In other words, the writing is all good & proper, the spelling is correct (no neologisms), the grammar is 'correct' (no imagination), & the stories have just the 'right' amt of 'realism' mixed w/ cute dramatic twists & turns. I can almost FEEL the professor's breath over the writer's shoulder. In other words, the TELLING of the stories is so devoid of personality that the writing is more-or-less interchangeable. One writer cd've easily written another writer's story & it wd be hard to tell the difference - EXCEPT FOR thru the content, of course - but I didn't find much personality in that either. & that's the harshest thing I'll say here.

W/ that out of the way, I can still be a critic & move onto more positive things. By the time I got to Matthew Vollmer's "Man-O'-War" I still felt like I was trapped in a world delimited by suburban-only experience but at least I started to enjoy it a bit. Well, ok, maybe I spoke too soon, the fiction was less-or-more a write-off to me. If only I cd get a tax lawyer to accept it.

THEN came the poetry & my interest perked up considerably: Rae Armantrout, Jaswinder Bolina:

"My cleft lip tweaked to my flattened nose, my goiter, my two-headed, a lizard gestating inside me. The firmament entwined with the steel mesh of girders: the industrial bridge I'm not leaping from. No reflection's reflected from the brown water. My reflection is the brown water."

I'll be looking for more from Bolina. Alex Cigale:

"The universe, also called the Library
thousands and thousands of false catalogues,
versions of each book in all languages,
the veridical account of your death.

& Steve McCaffery! I've heard recordings of McCaffery performing w/ the Four Horsemen, I saw him perform at Ultimatum II in Montréal in 1987, I saw him read at SUNY-Buffalo in 1995. He was great, grEAT, GREAT. In short, if I read something by McCaffery & I don't find it absolutely brilliant & inspired I figure I'm missing something. It's my 'fault', not his.

In other words, once I got past the fiction this collection redeemed itself for me more & more. I didn't mind that the non-fiction was ALSO written as if the writers were suffering from FEAR OF BEING DIFFERENT b/c at least the content was 'real' so the writers were destined to be revealed b/c of & despite the writing.

So now I've done it: extolled the poetry over fiction. Is the implication that formally poetry is EXPECTED to break the 'rules' in order to be 'good'? Apparently. Personally, I prefer that it all does it. I still enjoy these academic literary journals ANYWAY but I think the best writers don't come out of the cookie-cutter educational system.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 6, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 10, 2011 – Shelved
February 10, 2011 – Shelved as: biography
February 10, 2011 – Shelved as: literature
February 10, 2011 – Shelved as: poetry

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