TQC Favorites of 2012: Erica Mena

Here are the 5 picks from TQC Poetry Editor Erica Mena.

1. The Keep by Emily Wilson
This book demands to be consumed slowly, word by word. Each poem a dense wordscape that must be read and reread, immersed in and languished over. Its rich and lush and slow. Luxurious.

2. Voyager by Srikanth Reddy
An immense work. Haunting, lyric, and perhaps the most successful erasure I’ve ever read. The three erasures construct three different takes on the horrors and strangeness of the twentieth century. The third, the bulk of the book, moves the fastest for me and is the most narrative, telling a surreal story embedded in the nightmare-scape of a world confronted with its own capacity for destruction. Still, it avoids the angst and irony so much of contemporary writing turns to to engage with the legacy of violence left for us by the past century of mechanized warfare. And finds a kind of faith despite it all, in the very ability to relinquish faith. Stunning.

3. Unoriginal Genius by Marjorie Perloff
Required reading for anyone engaged in contemporary poetry.

4. I’ll Drown My Book ed. Caroline Bergvall, Laynie Browne, Teresa Carmody, and Vanessa Place
An impressive anthology of conceptual women writers.

5. The Whole of Poetry Is Preposition by Claude Royet-Journoud, translated by Keith Waldrop
Like so many reflections on writing, this is highly personal. We learn about the author through his subject, always, but there is an autobiographic impulse at work here. He writes about his process, his preferences for solidity over surrealism, how italics seem phallic to him, his fear. It’s intimate and revealing in a way that actual autobiography and even memoir can’t be. It’s revealing of detail with chronology. Without plot, which as he says, “is the tissue that separates and realigns four or five character-words” (18). And this seems much more indicative of a living mind to me – the scattered and yet linked thinking about oneself, reflecting on the very act you’re engaged in. In some ways the book is a record of the writing of the book, while insisting that it isn’t: “No manuscript shows any real state of the text in process of becoming.”

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