Carrie Lorig is a total force; everything she writes sprouts the colors of poem. I saw her read on her tour for her chapbook, NODS. (which I reviewed here), when she stopped in Cincinnati. A force. Her first full-length collection, The Pulp vs. The Throne, comes out later this year. I was pumped as hell when she agreed to answer some questions and prompts I’ve had buried for a while. We exchanged edits on a Google Doc, back and forth for a few days, so what you’re seeing here is the ice sculpture of a living breathing interview organism. It became a poem. Go read her poems. If you haven’t read any of her reviews, find them. They blow apart the genre’s atmosphere.


Mud Schematic: What I love most about your reviews is how surprising they are. Not only do they have the same energy as your poems, but their movement is incalculable (read: Michael Scott fumbling that word up). They reach into the pockets of everything and everywhere, pulling from lectures, songs, your afternoon, a friend’s afternoon, and of course the book at hand. What gravity do you possess that keeps these satellites functioning so well as a single moon? What is it in your goals as you set out to write about a book that keeps the review moving and lets you know you’ve finished?

Carrie Lorig: I possess the gravity that anyone who is engaged in the process of reading does. This is really what I set out to explore, capture, and think through. What it was like to read and to process and then to live after I have finished reading. It is almost impossible to replicate this in the same way that it is almost impossible for the poem to replicate a feeling and its consequences. It is almost impossible, but I can do it / I can try to incorporate the book into my life by speaking of it / of what it was like to read / as it unfolded / as it became intricate folds. As I read, my mind and assembles and it accumulates. It strays and it moves into exact places / exact spaces. That immediacy which is raw and intelligent is also very precious / powerful. Sometimes I feel like we forget that reading is A LIVING. It is an impossible entrance. A wild stillness. That idea is always what is in my tumblr_lx6rf4v0dH1r7p7p0o1_500mind as I begin to think of how I can write a review. What glimpse did I receive of that impossible entrance? What touch did I gather of it and how did it change me / move me / weep me / connect for me a constellation of texts continuing to embed themselves further and wider into my body? Does it make sense that this is the only gravity I feel I might need? That I have read this book and now I must speak to you about it in a way that preserves the energy I felt while I was there / as it continues to radiate. My goals depend on the book I am reading and thinking of writing about. Sometimes I know I am going to write about a book, sometimes I am asked by poets to write about their books. Sometimes I write a review of a book I feel unsure about so that I can learn more about it and how that book situates itself in poetry or language. Like a poem, the review reveals itself to me as I go. You are right that I am always incorporating what is around me and while I don’t plan for that, I always keep my feelers out. What is interrupting my concentration and how does it work itself in / settle in anyway? Also, something I feel I have learned as I’ve gotten older is how my reading has gotten hugely sensitive to association. I study and I study and I can SEE how all these books and words and lines and events in my day speak to each other. That has nothing to do with a religious idea of order, with God’s order. Or for me, it doesn’t. It has everything to do with the compelling nature of orchestration, of touch, of intertwining, of weaving, of lying down and focusing on what passes before you. I ramble too much, though. Or I am worrying about that right now, trying to talk about all this. I couldn’t stop my sentences from extending themselves if I wanted to. It makes the page feel inconsolable to me. It also makes the page feel like my continuous attempt at survival. And maybe that’s where the real gravity comes from? That tension. The truth that reading / language will always be too big for me. It is worth it, though, this tension / this difficulty, because writing reviews about poetry has taught me just as much about poetry / my life as writing poetry and going to school for poetry did. It also, very simply, replicates what most of us want, which is to have conversations about this art and this blood we believe in. I want to talk to you. I want the review to continue. What did Trisha Low just say? “I actually believe that critical writing, an unconscious appraisal of one’s own self and interest through placing oneself in someone else’s poetry, is probably the truest confessionalism there is.” I almost wept when I read that. THERE IS MAGIC HERE / AN UNIMAGINABLE BREED OF WITNESS / A GLOW OF HOUSING. I sympathize with those who dislike reviews, but I would also ask that we not discontinue reviews / that we not insist they are all boring or unnecessary or pandering to the point that we should not bother ourselves with publishing or reading reviews. That can’t be the answer. If it is / then I am not a poet.

MS: There is magic there. And it feels true that there’s a binary of language being too big while sentences, as a reaction, extend themselves, creating a storm with its own clashing energy. Does that even make sense? I’m not sure. But it all reminds me, oddly and maybe incorrectly, of an interview with Matt Hart, in which he says, “For me writing a poem is a process of reactivity—a way of interfacing with, and making sense of, myself, other people, and the world. It’s not the only way to make sense of these things, but it’s the best way that I have of confronting the joys and terrors and routine banalities of being alive.” In other words, some things are too big and amazing to swallow without writing back with an equal ferocity and explosion, just to create some kind of balance. So, is living (inside) language and breathing it in and out, maybe, and maybe like your review-writing, the main energy source for your poems? Does it kill writing’s magic to understand where its sunlight is coming from?

CL: The main energy source for my poems shifts. The main energy source for my poems might just be that I have always sort of processed the world the way that I do, except that now I have this potential to hone and explore that energy and peculiarity with which I look. However, there are also particular projects or interests that present themselves and those are often rooted in reactivity (I really love that Matt used this word instead of reaction!). Something I asked myself working on The Pulp vs. The Throne after writing NODS. (a very sound driven, body driven, emotionswamp driven chapbook) was could I write a statement? It’s such a simple question, but I became so worked up about it. I asked myself this question because when I went on tour with NODS. that was something I felt the audience was asking me / this woman that both scared and excited them with all her noise / cannonbleeding. She could make this clusterfucked darkness come from her blackthroat, yes, but could she S P E A K? It’s very possible I imagined that interaction between me and the crowds, but it became real for me, and I wanted to genuinely respond / to create a space that allowed me to answer the question. I wanted to explore these two sides of being / becoming on my own expansive / loving terms. 1) The soft, inexplicable oil bog (The Pulp) where magic and waves fuck / sing. The cracked open universe / crevasse where my feelings burn / celebrate. 2) A side of me that believes so much in critical articulation, in something slicing out of the water precisely (The Throne) and then echoing. A side of me that is, lol, an all too serious motherfucker interested in crystallizing some of what I see in front of me in a way that is coherent, yes, but also full of a PulpVsThronedemanding malleability / movement. I wanted to keep insisting that the difficult language I know (and a plethora of other emergent women / voices) I create can also have access points for people. I wanted to kill my murderers / the scoffing, white male professor while also insisting academia / intelligence is a cliff we can flood flowers on. There’s so much in and out in all that that I’m collapsing in my own fragrant hole, but I think this kind of in and out, which is also a giving in that refuses to give in, is why I’m currently so obsessed with the gesture of the / (BACKSLASH) in my poems, my thinking, my speaking. I build folds. I build folds and I lie down in them. Every sentence is the book. Every sentence can never be the book.

I don’t think these explorations which can bring me nearer to magic and its ever accumulating roots never makes me feel like the magic is killed or could be killed by us. I don’t think I can believe that magic is untouchable. Or at least not completely. Or magic isn’t eliminated when a shedding results in understanding. I don’t think logic and un-logic exclude each other. And maybe that’s also why I’m so interested in the VS. (THE VERSUS, THE VERSES) as collapsible. Magic is already dead / already alive. Language is already dead / already alive. I’m just here arranging it, like anyone, and this is where I really relate to Matt’s quote in that, I do it so I can circulate through the world with the world its people and flowers and dissolving horizons. I do it so I can see you despite all that seeks to keep us fucking apart. Where that magic is coming from is not as important as being present and attentive and continuous in the impossibility of joining despite / of empathy despite / of play despite / of creation despite (here is my garden of refusal / all wine stained and on fire). Couldn’t this be the thing that circumvents the idea that magic comes from anywhere specific? Maybe that’s how it will always avoid being killed? Or rather, that’s how it can be both alive / dead simultaneously / radically. This is where the word haunting was born.

MS: Having seen you read on your NODS. tour when you stopped in Cincinnati, it was very much an event molded around the body. I mean, it was a physical manifestation and solid exhaling of words rather than just transporting the two-dimensional into the vocal. It was like watching language dancing. And it feels like, reading through NODS. and reflecting back on my experience, the/your body isn’t just making and sounding the poems, but that it’s/you’re tangled up in some total cluster of being all at once: the maker and the subject and the object and the collector and part of the poembody soup. Is this new book a different approach to that cluster, or maybe a focusing in on one piece of the storm? Is the mind separate from the body or are they the same color? Also, “Every sentence is the book” is so totally Hejinian, and I so totally align with that principle. How much is each sentence its own body/its own limb, and how much does that distinction matter?

CL: Oh this is so interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it worded quite like that in front of me before. A total cluster of being all at once / a ribbon which equals maker, subject, object, sea, cliff, flower, grave, collector, part, smoke, dirt. It is twisted or is it a sword / a blade / a cut / a wound? Once I heard Zurita insist that it is not poets that make the poems, it’s the poems that make themselves via revelation (this term is not solely rooted in some kind of religious experience). The poem courses through the poet / surrounds the poet / infiltrates the poet. There’s some complexity in that Zurita quote that gets a little lost, but it also provides a necessary reminder, a la Jack Spicer and his martians / a la Cecilia Vicuna and her red strings, that poets aren’t superior / learned manipulators or removed / hyper controllers of the devotional area. They are a demonstrative material. Poets are inextricably involved, they arrange, they dream, they screamcolor, they error. Poetry is less of an act for me and more of a difficult, constantly changing process through which I gore / gorge (the french word for throat, our food’s word for raw desperation) myself / through which I love / through which I STUDY. I meant it when I said the page is inconsolable to me / its vastness. By vastness, I don’t think I mean largeness so much as I mean duration. And maybe that’s the real thing that The Pulp Vs. The Throne immersed me in, an examination of unfurling dimension. What it is to notice a difference in the way time and its relationship to language works on me. The first half of the book is one poem, “Much Affection from the Bold Part / of the River / Its a Crisis / of Movement,” that needed exactly that much space to suss out its individual parts and layers. The second half gathers out of the first / is made of these long, manifold poemessays that I collectively call Public Excess Channels. There was something freeing / fucked about understanding that the poems weren’t going to resolve themselves in one page or in one day or in one shape. I knew I had to just be there with the words. I knew I had to read and live and listen to Alice Notley weeping and listen to Bhanu Kapil lying down and listen to Edmond Jabes on fire. I had to keep returning. I had to be, as my friend Elisabeth Workman says, capacious in an unimaginable way. The poem functions and accumulates on a different plane, which really allows for the merging of mind and body you’re talking about. Women (and POC) are never allowed to be separate from their bodies. It’s supposed to make us smaller, right? That fact is supposedly our permission to live and also the reason we end up getting killed. But instead, it makes our poems too much for the workshop to deal with, it questions the poetry reading (What if I can’t perform any of my poems unless I get longer than 5 minutes?), it asks the reader to view the poem / the book as a force / an extreme snow, it asks the poem to have versions / variations and performances which create multiplicities, multiplicities which fray and deviate unexpectedly / importantly. There’s so much urgency here. I will not leave it. I think that variation that is repetition of the same thing but also a growth into something new reflects back towards your question about the sentence. This is where I look to Stein and also to Myung Mi Kim / Jabes. A sentence is its own magnolia tree. Its own delicate spring creating gallons. I love to watch them and work on them until they reveal what they are, until they walk / wander with me. (A song by King Krule just came on called, “Has This Hit?” That seems like exactly the question.) But the sentence can also be turned to face the rest, it can also be lost in the rest. The distinction matters, but it also matters that the volume of it can be an oscillation / a ventilation / an echosystem. The sentence is always a beginning / again.


Find/follow Carrie Lorig at her blog.

I’ve been reading Peter Markus’s work for a few years now, ever since he came and read stories at Central Michigan University. I can’t say if it’s the same experience of watching a movie a dozen times or if this book is truly rendered different than the others, but there’s a totally new kind of magic I feel added to Markus’s already crazy arsenal of word-glitter and mud-slinging. Unknown

First of all, Markus has never compiled this many lengthy stories together before. At least not the same way — there’s a sequence, some longer individual stories, and and overarching connection tying everything together in what feels like an A to Z order and making a reading from cover to cover incredibly rewarding. The new largeness gives his regular pitches of phrasing and repetition room to really breathe and gather more context. The plot also has time to create different shapes than the past stories, though all the elements of fables and folk tales are still strong as hell. The book, during my reading of it, got me thinking about identity more than with his past work.

There’s a duality in everything in this book — as the title might suggest. Death and life are not just classically pitted against each other, but they blur and dance and throw things at each other. There’s a more intricate exchange. Labeling, like his past work, is important in Markus’s latest collection, but the introduction of more than just two or three characters makes it all the more complicated and meaningful, swapping ‘We’ for ‘I’ and making pronouns proper nouns. What it is to be an alive individual is dissected and blown to bits and it’s nothing short of beautiful.

The immaculate Dzanc Books has the title waiting.

Full disclosure: I’ve reviewed Peter’s books in the past and Threadcount, where I am an editor, published a piece of his in our first issue.

Jeff Bean’s new chapbook is full of domestic tensions, strung with thread to a “you” we don’t exactly need a face for. Delicate yet strong emotions provide the current (you’ll see what I mean), but are laden fully with totally visceral aesthetics and images, nearly touchable but frustratingly as delicate as the current.

“Can you feel / the notes you don’t play? / They slide like fingers / along the skin / of the room.”

Some of these, I’ll admit, I have a special fondness for in that Bean taught in my undergraduate program, so these settings feel familiar and imagesclose to me. But that doesn’t dampen their ability to be translated, to be plucked and replanted wherever else. These places are the commons.

Bean swoops down and briefly scans the quiet domestic moments that can be haunting, devastating, seemingly average and yet entirely consuming, and does so with a healthy bit of humor, because how else to tackle these walled-in instances. But like, aren’t these fragments of life both shared and intimate and therefore worth exploring? Aren’t they mini-horror-stories set in pastel?

“A father / now, I understand birds, / how unbearably thin / their voices are.”

Bean applies just the right texture and proximity to these things without smothering them or letting them slip through his or your fingers. You want to touch these scenes and you can feel them on your molars.

Here in this filthy, real, honest, beautiful book of short fictions by Megan Martin, we get shotglasses of poison reflecting on a thin layer of dark clouds forever looming around our homes and desks and continents. Nevers feels so apocolyptic in describing a total frustration with a disconnect from the rest of the world. The domestic becomes both highlighted in its singularity with the universe and Unknownentirely and darkly disconnected from it.

“I would like to note how truly amazing and breathaking it is that so many of us are still alive, how despite eroding sequins and lost harilines, we continue to bloom and rot and bloom, on and on and on like galaxies and bacteria and ants.”

All of this framed by obsessions with ex-boyfriends, a totally perfect number of appearances of the word “fuck,” and an entirely depression-fueled sense of humor; one that seems to serve as a type of salvation.

“There used to be this thing called privacy and these other things called secrets, mysteries and wonderings. Meanwhile there you are, a bookshelf of French literature Photoshopped behind you. I type out, ‘The internet persona you project is a Renaissance lie!'”

These things are short and lovely and frustrated and addicting. They’re sick of the way things work, sick of institutions, and sick of feeling both helplessly attracted to it all and hopelessly disdained.

I don’t read all that many translations, but this one is maybe the best I’ve read. Rebecca Wadlinger and Ugly Ducking Presse have released this translation from the Norwegian poet Gro Dahl, and my main reaction is: hot damn and holy shit. It’s a series/collection of poems on motherhood and daughterhood, of family and how dark that relationship can become, and what happens with that energy when it’s trapped in a house. Multi-generational motherhood, sure, but they all sort of blend together in a way that makes the relationship between mother and daughter the true speaker of the poems. It’s the in-between that speaks from its self-formed mouthGroDahle.

“A trout out of water. A catch of nine pounds. An exchange. / And the fish flops in the bucket. A daughter. A daughter. I am / deathless.”
The house reacts to the moods of this relationship, but the speaker also seems to direct the furniture and the space itself at times. It becomes confusing as to which is affecting which, and in this way, it feels a lot like a haunted house in the making. The ghosts in this book are alive and now, but already the house twists with the histories being made by its residents.

There is a narritive here, unearthed more intelligently than I could by Johannes Göransson, but it’s not entirely direct. It’s more of a stacking, of a collection of moments rather than a river’s momentum forward. But i like that so much better — it even fits in with the fabulisms of the house and the physical actions.

There is a heavy sexualization welded into this uneasy relationship, too, and the house feels it.

“Inside, the standing lamp touches the chair’s back. It all trembles. As I / turn out the light, the sofa silently mounts the coffee table. And / the chairs ride each other without a creak.”

The whole thing is dark, tense, beautiful, and moving. It’s amazing to me how so many of the poems take the same basic shape and function and yet surprises keep happening and happening. I mean, how the hell. How the house.


Check the book out here.


Forgive me for comparing, but Fernandez’s first and prior collection, WE ARE PHARAOH, is a starkly different thing and effect/affect than this follow-up, available from the very same Canarium Books.


Here in PINK REEF, the poems are quick and sharp and gruesome in a beautiful and crystalline way. Here, the body comes in pieces and seems to be on its way out due to its own deep thinking and observing. The body (or maybe the voice) tries desperately to describe and claw at its surrounding world as it implodes in its bloodiness and pinkness.

“find the dragon’s scales seeing in / my stomach’s bleeding”

In this way, I think, the collection does lend itself a thread to its predecessor, as I feel both books try to tackle that wonderfully dense problem of absorbing and describing one’s world. But, again, the form and content are given more canines than molars. It’s similar to the experience, I would imagine (mostly based on stories — okay, entirely based on stories), of acupunture: you come out feeling relieved and renewed but the objects themselves are small and pointed.

The voice itself is still Fernandez’s, but with an entirely different aim and purpose than his first book. I wouldn’t call it a comeback; I’d call it a new set of claws.

“the mounds of roe are / so bright today it’s like / I see the sun for the first / time it’s like I see the sun clearly / in the idea of it it’s like I see the sun / clearly in the black mounds of / shine in the swollen / clear of it”

I learned back in a high school weather class that the air in the upper regions of the atmosphere is so thinly spread out that you could fly around in a freezing vastness before encountering a single burning particle. That’s close to how I feel about this collection, though clear air might be replaced by every manner of cloud, by which I mean to represent the wild, weaving language in its beautiful and dangerous abstractness.9780989734417_cvr

“we eclipse / a limit to human strength / we eclipse / eclipse when you are / dying no body listens to you / because every body does”

Part of what connects Valerie Hsiung’s poems both in their individual interior and in the context of the rest of the collection is her heavy, heavy interest in repetition. The poems also relate every human instinct and expression with a piece of a landscape or some element in the natural world, resulting in a magnetic web of connectedness.

“Azaleas to play / and thru azaleas / prescience / Azaleas to play/ and thru azaleas / the place without them / prescience / Azaleas / as if the country/ and banned them”

The collection seems to me an attempt to break us of the way we think about and vocalize our thoughts and the conflicts behind them. It abstracts and blankets these thoughts while grounding them a bit (or, rather, trying to ground them) with repetition. Either way, they guide a sort of floating along as we ascend and descend into and from these struggles to think and address. And, my god, it’s a beautiful exploration. Hsiung prioritizes playing with the space on the page and repetition to make a more interesting and open composition out of these pieces. And it does; to me, it does achieve that openness which otherwise might be absent in these poems, which don’t have many clear markers as to beginnings and endings but if they did it would feel forced against the grain of her established aesthetics. In a lot of ways, the playfulness reminds me of Stein’s Tender Buttons, though under your face is certainly more directive and space-wandering.

I’ll end by saying the best part of this book is the vast amount of surprises. You’d think repetition wouldn’t allow for many, but you’d be wrong. You’d be weatherman wrong.


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