Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Zolf & Stephens at belladonna

As promised, a very brief note on the Rachel Zolf/Nathalie Stephens reading at Dixon Place. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Zolf’s Human Resources—a work in progress—and it was impressive on paper, but hearing it, even more so. One becomes aware of the many notes she strikes. Humorous and biting, she exhausts HR speak, folding the banal and oppressive into a fractured, abstract narrative:
The tyranny of subject-verb-predicate is neither emotional nor balance like belly or finger or the accident that no longer looks like a symptom. Any dissemination, distribution or copying is strictly on the receiving end I may be missing something here.
I had read, but never heard either Zolf, or Stephens read before, and it was good to hear them together. The work was so different, and yet so companionable.

Stephens new work is scrumptious. In compact, precise sentences that remind me of Lisa Robertson’s The Weather, Stephens creates a lyrically fragmented world that is both urban/rural/surreal: “In adornment and philosophy. In rivers’ edges and wrought bridges, rusted scaffolding.” And “After the wide-angled sea. The tall pines felled. The stones where some sit. The waters seditiously.” Stephens’ writing is in constant flux, but there is, in all of her work, a very calm center capable of gymnastic imagery and lucid thinking. Not to mention wit. She writes: “I went to Hell./It was the same city all over again.”

But this is not the same city all over again. And for certain it is not the same poetry all over again.


You can order both Zolf and Stephenschapbooks here and support belladonna while you’re at it. Zolf and Stephens also have books available through Coach House Books and The Mercury Press .

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