Tag Archives: greying ghost

Review: ‘Michigander’, by B.J. Love

MichiganderMichigander by B.J. Love
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Greying Ghost is now 2-0. I really think this might be it, I might go on hiatus from full-length poetry collections for a while; I’m just finding way too much insanely good stuff in chapbook-land–I’m seriously batting perfectly right now.

This book is physically tiny (even by chap standards) but feels immense, to call it expansive is to laughably understate the many millions of lifetimes you’d need to breathe through all the air there is here. The real trick is that Love manages to edge in just enough constraint to keep one’s focus on the production at hand, and it is a production. I want to use my line about this reminding me of some of the Smashing Pumpkins music videos but I just did that in my last review. It’s more apt, anyway, to say that this feels like a Jan Svankmajer piece with a Michael Bay kind of budget, filmed on location, somewhere like Muskegon.

I really enjoyed the shaky sense of scope and ‘lens’ throughout this chapbook, the shifting authority of the narrating voice as well as the place of the viewer and/or reader as the production on display quickly evinces many facets beyond the normal spectacle / receptacle relationship.

I get a lot of paradoxical feelings when reading this RE: disposability, mortality, and meaning that hopes to or can echo out longer than 25 frames-per-second might allow. HD film and TV stun with better and better quality, but really all the more to forget–change the channel, find whatever’s next in the Netflix queue. But Lake Michigan keeps lapping with its forgiving waves, right? I don’t feel that there is a statement being made about the lasting ease of nature vs. media, though–the lake is media, an elevator wanders along its shores next to us, the headlines aren’t the only thing that are tomorrow’s microfiche, etc. Our wedding announcements, our obituaries, our births, the newspaper in the gutter / being recycled / being read online, everything is transmittable, our bodies just a really slow bandwidth rate.

I have no idea what any of that means. I loved this chapbook, it’s yellow covers a little bulb sitting at the edge of my peripheral vision as I type this, giving off no light but not dimming.

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Review: ‘Polaroid Parade’, by Paige Taggart

Polaroid ParadePolaroid Parade by Paige Taggart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just spent some time this morning with this stunning chap from Greying Ghost. There’s a great deal to admire packed into this spare little gray book, most notable to me was the sweeping, bright colors coloring nearly every inch of the canvas here–if there’s any whitespace left over in the landscape Taggart paints, it blinds and chills you (think the first sunny-skied blizzard of the year). In this way the poems remind me of the work of my dear friend Naoko Fujimoto, who always seems to spread color simply and with a glossy sheen while always allowing in texture and depth.

Everything is in motion here, too; I also find myself reminded of some of the Smashing Pumpkins music videos, and Cornell boxes, little stop-action animations going berserk (quietly), absurd non-narratives telling you their stories. What really works about what Taggart is doing for me is the deft way she resists the temptation to really let a narrative form, or to let this dreamscape develop and employ its own language. Imagery and syntax pop and cohere and dance and pass out left and right, and there are even some recurring almost-characters and themes and objects, but everything is so unsettled and unsettling…things, yes, cohere, but dissipate and shatter almost as quickly, the minute you’ve got your finger on a ley line you’re plummeting again. Another note on the syntax, this chap really shines linguistically in flowing, airy flourishes that hold themselves tight even as they float away–Taggart’s speaker / constructor / maestro play-by-plays confidently but with a wide-eyed surprise and wonder. This production feels like a very imaginative and matured vocabulary of images and language filtered through the sort of unbridled scope of a playscape of playthings we might think of as childlike in the freedom seen at work.

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