MxT generates its force through the perpetual denial of this promise. Over and over, the poems present a detached and clinical façade, only to have it break down or prove useless. For example, “A Manual for Remembering” instructs the reader on ways to encounter memory while remaining safe and insulated: “When remembering it is best to wear pants without cuffs, boots, gloves, safety glasses and a feeling helmet (shade 10 or higher).” As the poem progresses, however, these instructions become increasingly elaborate, fantastic, or impossible:
Never touch a banana slug, or cedar melting like lava. Beware of a failed city tumbling into the bowl of an upturned tree. If ferns adorning each dull ache are wet, apply a Cowichan sweater zipped up to the first branch.
The constant reminders to guard against memory reinforce its dangers, and our inability to follow the directions suggests that no amount of precaution can truly protect us.
Read it here, along with reviews of Fanny Howe, Dororthea Lasky and Joanne Diaz. Thanks to Poetry and Rebecca Hazelton.