Saturday, January 11, 2014

MYRRH TO RE ALL MYTH by j/j hastain


myrrh to re all myth by j/j hastain
(Furniture Press Books, Baltimore, MD, 2013)

effort to understand oneself through the world’s understanding
or repudiation of a world’s

            functionality of the shroud
            or somewhat

always fluxing
the equilibrium
around what makes matter

            towers of towing

            centrifugal fruit

There is something of the life-long single project to what I’ve seen so far from American poet and dusie kollektiv member j/j hastain, the most recent incarnation being the trade poetry collection myrrh to re all myth (Furniture Press, 2013). Through a growing number of books and chapbooks, there is something of the accumulate to hastain’s poetic work as a whole, comparable, perhaps, to Fanny Howe’s poetry, or the late Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert, that everything somehow falls into an expansive, single structure of writing. The fragments that accumulate into myrrh to re all myth, unlike the day to day perambulations of Gilbert, are far more abstract. myrrh to re all myth is an exploration of linguistics, identity and the body, an unpaginated collage that writes of the act of reading, and how it impacts upon a text, and how the act of mythmaking impacts the nature of story. What, exactly, are the stories we insist on telling ourselves?

            our destiny
            is the identity we stay in

Writing of identity and “trans” places hastain’s work in conversation with the work of Canadian expat NathanaĆ«l (the poet formerly known as nathalie stephens), another writer working within the ever-expanding spaces between language, gender and culture. myrrh to re all myth is constructed out of a series of sketches that occasionally fragment to the appearance of unfocused, requiring a deep attentiveness. This isn’t a poetry one can simply dip into and skim, but must enter, at whatever point, to reside within for some time.

my trans
is an activism of placement
as close to ethereal decays as possible


Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of more than twenty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. His most recent titles are the poetry collections Songs for little sleep, (Obvious Epiphanies, 2012) and grief notes: (BlazeVOX [books], 2012), and a second novel, missing persons (2009). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books, The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at

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