Monday, July 13, 2009

Constance Stadler - Paper Cuts (book review)

Paper Cuts - book review
Constance Stadler
Calliope Nerve Press
93 pp, ebook

As always, in this collection Constance Stadler achieves a balance between modern content and a sampled traditional form, whereby the poetry runs through the lexis of the traditional but with neologisms and archaisms rubbing shoulders and thighs in a glorious mêlée that achieves often the status of poetry of the purest water.

Her targets are everything from Plato (completely unjustly, the poem could be about somebody else) to Jesus and the Society of same, completely spot on target. Modern life is dissected and diagnosed here, found lacking, the anxious and painful half-lives people live are examined and found wanting, the poet's own pain is examined and there is a clear movement in the course of the book towards a tone of understanding and acceptance, the attainment of beauty in some sense is seen as a justification of the anhedonia.

The book takes us from hospital to Gaza, exploring injustices on a variety of levels, Amerikkka's war on Iraq and society's war on the individual.

Everything falls under the poet's lens – passion:

My engorged vulva
Screams for jungle abductions
And whatever would take me
Could not plunge deep enough.
Tomorrow,
Brings shower and the routines
Of numbness.
That is, if I
Conquer this animal
Night.
(Seething...)


mortality:

Sepia catacombed
In sweet stench of young rot
The maggot is well fed.
Bloating, we are new made
In concatenated leprosies
In our mouldy hypocrisies
In the death bed lie.
(concessional)


the reticence of nature:

Grass tuft, will you not speak to me?
A blue and brown tit jumped on my table
Near the Arno and shared
My sandwich
As a full bosomed poppy floated by.
Wilted corn stalks in vermilion light
Thrill as magic
Snowy egrets dance in pond surrender
To cabbage palms.
(Terrestrial Illuminations)


This book makes love and passion in the face of sickness, dis-ease, bereavement and a more general ontic and ontological abandonment. It makes the word a lover and an expression of the body's engorgement, it makes the muse a bedfellow, and the reader a voyeur, which is what readers usually are, but not so openly expressed.

Only Constance Stadler writes like this nowadays, only she can. Available from
http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/paper-cuts/7388443