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Latest Playlist

Vibratory Milieu

Like the eponymous teen heroine of strategic reversals, Carrie White, Carrie Hunter wields awesome telekinetic powers. Collaged quotations and phrases hover on the page, spotlighting the objects of our desire, fury and incredulity. We find ourselves to be somewhere within 'boundaryless metamorphosis’s apparent borders', making 'decision(s) within aporia', a tensile and refractive echo chamber of mega consequence. With heightened awareness of the stimulations and fabrications at hand we become emboldened to bring down the house (capitalism, racial, gendered and ecological violence, etc.), an imbricated architecture, every part, every function accumulative and inextricably linked. In Vibratory Milieu, feminist provocation tackles the garish and overarching humiliating features of the omnipresent succubus that wields so many guises. 'If true consciousness lies below the conscious level', ease into the hypnotic genius of Carrie Hunter’s representation of encounter. This book is the best possible psychic release. —Brenda Iijima

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Featured on April 5, 2021

What's a Prose Poem to Do

I—a habitual writer of sequences, and particularly of untitled prose poem sequences—have been trying to write an Individual Poem. I’m interested in the single moment, but I distrust it. So I met myself halfway in this playlist and looked for prose poems with titles, whose main unit was the punctuated sentence. We start with Yona Harvey’s “Q.," whose sentences catch Harvey’s wonderful & particular rhythm, and with Ashley Toliver’s exquisite emotional miniature, “Housekeeping.” But, as usually happens when I write with constraints, they crack a bit by the end. In Jenny Xie’s haibun “Corfu” we see how a line break differently holds tension from the sentence, and in Trace Peterson’s funny and whip-smart HRT poem “The Valleys are so Lush and Steep” the propulsive energy of the sentence travels across each section break. Each of these poems find potential in the focused attention to the texture of their language that a prose form provides.

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Featured on March 29, 2021

Mezzanine

Named for the floor between floors and a kind of amphibious financing, Zoë Hitzig’s exquisitely engineered Mezzanine lands the reader in a nether place of talking commodities, misplaced agency, category mistakes, and radical dysphoria. As intricately woven as it is scrupulously observed and considered, if this “unwell trelliswork” of anomie and economics sounds strangely familiar, that’s because we live here, siloed on digital platforms where denial is easy, where fabricated cricket song takes the place of crickets and self-knowledge has been obviated by human subject research. Into these dire circumstances Hitzig dives head-first, feverish, an investigator who grapples with reality by recasting it from the inside out. In other words, she is a poet, and an extraordinary one at that—one whose response to our communal plight (“Then everyone was plural: data”) is charged with an intensity that at times recalls Eliot in its elegant, extrapersonal despair (“a heap of crackling synapses”), but here and there, and just in time, a fleck of good cheer or unexpected hopefulness (“I am not preparing / to leave”) reminds us of what there is to love in the human, and what it feels like to feel like it’s still too soon to give up.

- Timothy Donnelly

 

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Featured on March 22, 2021

Except for This Unseen Thread

Ra’ad Abdulqadir (1953–2003) is a pioneer of the Iraqi prose poem, the author of five poetry collections, and a lifelong editor of Aqlam, Iraq’s leading literary magazine.

Published in Baghdad in 2006, Falcon with Sun Overhead and The Age of Entertainment inspired a new generation of Iraqi poets, charmed by Ra’ad’s ability to write tender poems in times of destruction and fury. While many of his peers were writing poems about battlefields and faraway exiles, Ra’ad was looking closer in, at the loneliness of those left behind. Hailed for its cinematic portrait of Iraq under sanctions—the bread queues, busy cemeteries, empty schools, and the impossible departures and returns, Ra’ad’s work commemorates the wonders of a city staying still, one blink at a time. Except for This Unseen Thread, the first collection of Ra’ad’s work in English translation, is comprised of poems selected from both titles, with an introduction by the translator, Mona Kareem.

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