Saturday, January 11, 2014


JIM McCRARY reviews

The Identification of Ghosts by Maryrose Larkin
 (Chax Press, Tucson, AZ, 2013)


At The Autopsy Of Vaslav Nijinsky by Bridget Lowe
(Carnegie Melon University Press, Pittsburgh, PA, 2013)

It is really difficult for me to write about The Identification of Ghosts by Maryrose Larkin.  Not from lack of ‘knowing’ her or her work.  Not that.  The fact is that reading her latest text just now for the third time….leaves me so wrapped up in her words that I cannot find or rather I struggle to find a way out.  The really strange thing is that right now I just closed the PDF file of the manuscript and my head is banging with the song What Did The Fox Say.  I swear to fucking infinity and it makes me laugh.  What could be wrong with me.  So, beyond that, this text The Identification of Ghosts… the most engaging, heartwarming, comforting, unbelievable, unreachable and (oh shit) lyrical text I have read in a very long time.  Here is the deal though….I can’t tell you why or how she does it. I could quote the whole 50 pages right now…that would be the only way I know to do it.  Flummexed, gobsmacked, mollycoddled….yet as calm as white fur in dawn fog.  Or some such.  Maybe if I had more to lean on…That might help me tell you what this work does to me.  I don’t.  Hopefully…Some will.  No doubt that.  Here is what I can say…Larkin is the best.  Just Now.  And so here are some lines.  Stay with them.  Look for more.

even when translated definition is a hollow where
we intubate the living & shroud the dead

how I continued to believe in macular seas
metallic whites

the broken grist
is no boundary between 3 & one ghost


The book At The Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky opens with this poem titled: “Poem for Virginia as Joan of Arc.”

In the form of a voice that hated you
your counsel came.

You lowered yourself
to the bathroom floor to hear it.

The world went slow as a drip of something
sugared.  You couldn’t speak

clearly.  You stumbled over birds.
The call of God is gradual…..

This is not the whole poem…forgive me that.    But I think it introduces the reader to Ms. Lowe and her work.  She seems to have taken great joy in finding a pleasure from historic texts.  Here in this collection she refers to several of them…about Nijinsky, the Wild Boys of Aveyron and a couple other equally (to me) obscure books from the past.  Well done for sure on her part.  Reflected throughout.  And yet these are not, as can be found in countless published collections, the usual “let me just re-write this stuff my way.” as poets have always tried  to do.  Lowe brings her contemporary life into and around and over her subjects life and combines them in unexpected and graphic ways.  It works for her.  She seems to have found a way to meet with a past that is violent, honestly tactile and crude, horny, dirty, loving And illuminated by her own poetics.  In this collecton she seems to have found the documents for a foundation to a text stream that suits her well.  Good on her.  She deserves much in return.


Jim McCrary is featured here with his cat Abby settling in for “ a long winter’s nap”—

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