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Figures for a Darkroom Voiceby Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson
These aren't just two guys with three names each; these are two of the poets to watch in the next generation. Gordon just won the National Poetry Series Open (judged by the legendary John Ashbery) for his book Novel Pictorial Noise, and Wilkinson won the coveted Iowa Poetry Prize for his book Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk. Here the two have combined voices for a frisky, lithe, verbal romp. What started as an experiment in poetics, passing a pad of paper back and forth across a cafe table, ended as one of the most interesting books of last year. Think language poetry meets Project Runway. With whimsical drawings by Noah Saterstrom, and published by the always stellar Tarpaulin Sky Press.
Synopses & Reviews
In Figures for a Darkroom Voice the rhetorical twisting of Noah Eli Gordon's abstractions meld with the ominous narratives of Joshua Marie Wilkinson's fragments, turning Wallace Steven's notion of a supreme fiction toward a supreme friction, one where the work of these two poets is fused into a voice as singular as it is sinister. Imagine a gallery in which Cornell boxes talk back, a Maya Deren film in which the audience dissolves into projector light, a Philip Glass composition played exclusively on medieval weaponry, such are the compelling results of this collaborative work.
In prose poems, syntactically elusive sonnets, and haunting, haiku-like fragments illuminated by the ink drawings of Noah Saterstrom, one encounters a recurring cast of logically-skewed images, inauspicious yet arresting aphorisms, and characters rendered fully bizarre in the lightest of brushstrokes. Here, the slippage and disruptions of textually investigative work collides with the mind-expanding project of conjuring paradox, while never quite leaving linearity behind. When these poets write, "I am trying to draw you a simple picture of explanation," one realizes the monumental nature of such a task. And this task is made more complex, and ultimately more rewarding, by the inclusion of Noah Saterstrom's dynamic images. "Who," Gordon and Wilkinson ask, "operates the levers in this darkroom dress-shop?" Who, indeed! The rich history of literary collaboration just got richer.
Poetry. In prose poems, syntactically elusive sonnets, and haunting, haiku-like fragments, one encounters within FIGURES FOR A DARKROOM VOICE a recurring cast of logically-skewed images, inauspicious yet arresting aphorisms, and characters rendered fully bizarre in the lightest of brushstrokes. Imagine a gallery in which Cornell boxes talk back, a Maya Deren film in which the audience dissolves into projector light, a Philip Glass composition played exclusively on medieval weaponry, such are the compelling results of this collaborative work. The texts of Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson, illuminated by the ink drawings of Noah Saterstrom, fuse into a voice as singular as it is sinister.
About the Author
Noah Eli Gordon is the author of Novel Pictorial Noise (Harper Perennial, 2007; selected by John Ashbery for the National Poetry Series), A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow (New Issues, 2007), Inbox (BlazeVOX, 2006), The Area of Sound Called the Subtone (Ahsahta, 2004), and The Frequencies (Tougher Disguises, 2003), as well as numerous chapbooks, including That We Come to a Consensus (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005; in collaboration with Sara Veglahn).
Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms (Pinball, 2005), Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk (U of Iowa, 2006), and The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth (forthcoming from Tupelo Press). He holds a PhD from University of Denver and lives in Chicago where he teaches at Loyola University. His first film, Made a Machine by Describing the Landscape, is due out next year.
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