Oct 31, 2008
Happy Halloween! Most of you probably know of the trials and tribulations that my first book, Astrometry Orgonon has gone through in coming into the world, so you should know how pleased I am that the book is at long last available to order from BlazeVOX books. Some of you will note the slight change of spelling in the title, this is to differentiate it from the other version of the book that was ostensibly to be published with a different publisher. But time waits for no man, and neither do I, so the book has relocated to greener pastures.
The book is available on line through BlazeVOX at: http://www.blazevox.org/bk-ml.htm; the buy it now will take you to an Amazon storefront through which BlazeVOX sells their books. Even though the purchase is made on Amazon, the book is still purchased "through" BlazeVOX. BlazeVOX is a fantastic publisher and needs your help in these troubled times, so I must ask that you please purchase a copy of the book in this manner. Due the nature of Print On Demand, I will not be able to be as generous giving away copies of this as I have been with some other projects. But please check out the book, I have waited a long time for this.
Here is the copy from the back of the book (blurbs?, we don't need no stinking blurbs):
"The map of the heavens has long been the place where humanity has immortalized those narratives that are instructive to its understanding of the universe. The named celestial bodies represent a repository of information from diverse cultures, both ancient and modern. Each poem in this volume bears the name of the brightest named star of every visible constellation from both hemispheres. Insofar as mythology, science and religion offer us explanations of the properties and behavior of the physical world, Astrometry Orgonon, like the star-stories of old, creates a new, secular cosmology based on the scientific observations of Wilhelm Reich and Richard A. Muller compounded with various modern and ancient religions. By accepting as fact the theories of these and other disputed or dis-proven worldviewsn, these poems speak of the tenuousness and fragility of human understanding, and offer a critique of the actions of humans during the past several millennia."
Oct 19, 2008
I was excited to receive a chapbook of poems from my friend Guillermo Parra, from whom I haven't seen an extensive number of poems since Cy Gist published (a portion of) his Caracas Notebook in the summer of 2006. Phantasmal Repeats is an austere black and white volume, produced on an apoplectic typewriter whose "e's" and "a's" appear to be sinking into the ground as if, appropriately, pulled by the arms of the angry dead. ("I can't hold these vowels enough to make the trembling / cease"). Even the bottom margin of the book itself appears rough-hewn, as though itself torn from the ground. The effect of the jagged lines is to make each poem a kind of Rorschach-like piece of visual art. This does not detract from the traditional sanctity of the poems, though, which are in keeping with Guillermo's exilic voice from Caracas Notebook, only this time they seem to be about the shift from North to South, or urban to less-urban (I'll probably receive letterbombs if I call Durham "rural")--Guillermo moved from Boston to North Carolina around the time that I moved to New York, another member of the great Boston poetic brain-drain that occurred around the middle of the decade.
The poems here seem mostly solitary (somewhat unlike Caracas Notebook which feels more "public"), with the narrator appearing to inhabit an empty domestic space with music infinitely looping ("Recurring rhythms make paste") in the background (the loop is a reoccurring motif in Parra's works--the "Phantasmal Repeats" of the book's title and "stress points / compose / phantasmal repeats"), and the musical paeans that bespeckle the poems seem considered and appropriate ("I'm one of the few people who live what's called the low-life" from New Order), and thus less irksome than I sometimes find purloined lyrics. Maybe I only like musical references when they are bands I like. Something I always find satisfying though are ghosts, and there are a number of them haunting this chapbook; indeed the black and white bleakness of the chap seems to adumbrate the spectral white sheet with two full stops for eyes ("like a ripple / of ghosts/ across the window"). Recurrent phrases and motifs ("bass cathedrals," loops, flowers) accentuate the haunted-quality of the book, as do the poems homebound-ness, although the narrator does leave said environs to be terrified by the brick block of a TJ Maxx in one of the bleakest and scariest poems of the book.
Guillermo is one of those poets who is not afraid of the lyric "I," and comfortable (or as comfortable as possible) with the process of mediating between the protected sacred self and the dumb tableaux of the world ("I write fitting spaces / For the sake of secrecy's map.") Probably like me, Guillermo is also one of those poets happiest by himself, with only oblique traces of obvious literary antecedents, choosing the right tool for the job independent of anyone else's kit.
I have no idea how one might acquire one of these outside of Guillermo himself, who I imagine would probably send you one if you asked.