Monday, September 10, 2007

Ange Mlinko, The Children's Museum

My scanner doesn't begin to do justice to this beauty, one of Ryan Murphy's "proudly haphazard" one-offs from Prefontaine Press. It arrived in all its hand-sewn glory in July just as we polished off the last of the collected Stevens, which seemed particularly fitting and particularly satisfying since both were so pleasurable to read (or reread) aloud.

Mlinko has described the Hartford pyrotechnician and voluptuary as "consistently wring[ing] the comic potential from mere syllables," with a humor that "comes right out of the click and crash of consonants and vowels, as if phonemes were feathers applied to a particularly ticklish part of the brain," and it would be hard to come up with a better description of her own protean, acrobatic project, recently seen to full advantage in her National Poetry Series-winning volume Starred Wire (Coffee House, 2005).

I've been reading film editor and soundscape designer Walter Murch's musings on how the blinking of our eyes punctuates consciousness and how those blinks resemble (and can be used to suggest) cuts in film, and have inevitably gone on to wonder exactly how we blink, cut, punctuate the thought-stream in poems. What better way to begin that study than to screen the first half of the title poem of this lovely small collection, and let Mlinko show us how it's done:

It's hard to know whether today or yesterday was the full moon;
excitement isn't rigorous. It's just river-silvering

blent with the odor of silt where the roofs spike
along a repurposed waterfront.

A beach ball floats above the pressurized stream;
it is disequilibrium that keeps it there. Soap's expressed

as blisters when even gravity works backwards
at the limit of the ball held upside down inside the loop.

Rewards in a game they play against themselves
-- "Fancy curtseying as you're falling through the air" --

the shade breaks up beneath the oaks
tithing their gifts against the curriculum

of an armed galaxy. It slides into focus for the instant
I'm brrr, blurred.


AM said...

Thank you, Rachel.

It's funny, I was feeling so crappy about my poetry today. (A kind of self-pity at one remove.)

Rachel Loden said...

Funny how that works -- it always amazes me that people don't know what their work means to others, but then of course I have my own bad days as I soldier on.

Forgot to tell people how they can get the chapbook (if there are any copies left): contact Ryan Murphy of Prefontaine Press at 121 LaSalle St. #6, NY, NY 10027.

W.B. Keckler said...

I am very happy to have discovered your blog. I appreciate the omnivorousness and the amiable tone. It seem a warm and human place for literature. I would certainly have known of you already, but clearly I am blogosphere-challenged. You can find me at Joe Brainard's Pyjamas, should you care to. Merci pour le blog! W.B. Keckler

Rachel Loden said...

Thanks, W.B. -- much appreciated.