Review of Wendy Xu's PHRASIS up at 32 Poems

Spoiler: I adored this collection:

Wendy Xu’s Ottoline Prize-winning second collection, Phrasis, deeply disturbs the foundation of sensory experience. The book’s title, taken from Ancient Greek, translates to “manner of expression.” In interrogating both how we perceive and the systems into which we organize perception, the deftly wrought poems of Phrasis challenge the reader’s consumption and creation of “meaning.” There is a central tension between visual perception and language’s system of meaning that dominates Phrasis: “My source text was unresponsive and so varying / methods, slashed it pink instead.”

Read the rest of this review at 32 Poems, here.


Interview with Molly McArdle up at Brooklyn Magazine: "Skyping with Feminist Poet Caroline Crew"

Molly is a witch exceedingly dear to my heart and I'm so chuffed I got to talk to her about saints, witches and being a feminist poet over at Brooklyn Magazine. You can read it here! And here a lil bit about the space between nonfiction and poetry:

You also write a fair amount of nonfiction—you recently had an essay in Conjunctions. How did you come to write in this mode? What about nonfiction interesting about it to you?
I came to nonfiction through poems. It was a natural move—so many of my favorite essays seem so close to poems. And so many of my favorite nonfiction writers are poets. For me it really came out of researching poems. I wrote a little chapbook about poems based on saints’ lives calledCAROLINE WHO WILL YOU PRAY TO NOW THAT YOU ARE DEAD and I’m kind of a nuts researcher. While I was working on that book, I’d make a lot of notes to myself. I’d write in the margins about Catherine of Sienna, “she did what?” Those little asides to myself in my research notes were essays. That’s how I first started getting into nonfiction.
I love poetry and I love political poetry, and I think it has a huge capacity to say important things. But so does nonfiction. There are things I need to grapple with in sentences. I know that the distinction between fiction and nonfiction and poetry are pretty arbitrary, but having the label of nonfiction for myself keeps me somewhat accountable. It gives me a different level of transparency. It prods me to think a lot more deeply. It’s not necessarily about honesty. I also really enjoy the collage element of nonfiction and being able to include other people’s ideas in a much more elegant way than I can achieve in poetry. That’s really appealing to me, to create a bigger space in which to put Kathy Acker and cage fighting together.

Review of PINK MUSEUM in American Microreviews & Interviews.

JoAnna Novak reviews PINK MUSEUM at American Microreviews & Interviews. You can read the whole review here. 

How fitting, then, that the rot and ruin of female expression concerns, somewhat obliquely, the speaker(s) in a book that’s title refers to a space where old and revered relics converge. In Crew’s hands, the conflation of motherhood and literature is framed and mounted, announced in a prefacing, untitled poem when the speaker observes: “I built for you this grand opening/how to give life is nothing/until I fetch it again in my mouth.” These lines suggest that a procreative act is simple, “nothing,”; what requires skill—and a sort of teachable skill—is the ability to convey, to “fetch.”

While throughout Pink Museum poems like “How Do I Love Thee?” bloom up and perish (I mean, only, that they sometimes end rather quickly), the book’s strength lies in its two long poems, sequences, really, that accomplish, in short, dense lines, tremendous work. I especially liked “Pink Museum,” where the aforementioned themes are grounded in an imaginary physical space. “Well-lacquered [shelves],” “the catalogue of selected silence,” “a new corridor”: in this poem, a group of girls wanders, “proceeding as expected just the same,” showing what it is to be complicit in history, “what it is to be surrounded by glass.”