Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. THE GIRL WITHOUT ARMS is a figure in Japanese folklore—a young girl whose arms are lopped off by her father, and is left to die in the mountains. The father, at the behest of his evil wife—the girl's stepmother—lures the girl into the mountains at the promise of attending a neighboring festival. This is only the beginning of the tale. The poems of Brandon Shimoda's THE GIRL WITHOUT ARMS are birthed of the rainy shut-in pause between steps forward and back in a season of great floods. In successive and interlocked sequences, these poems grapple with a seemingly unbridgeable confusion—related to love, the impossibility of life outside of love, and the unbearableness of life within it—as a way to give shape to the dark weather that permeates our lives, so as not to drown at its coming.
"Grandeur and nakedness, visionary ambition and discomfiting honesty collide and combine in the long lines and big scenes of this latest book from the prolific and peripatetic Shimoda (The Inland Sea). Most of the volume comprises three sequences. All are, at least in part, love poems: the last two are tender, inviting, even as they cover a strange and ruined America. 'Let us touch each other over the smear of a waterbird across the ground,' Shimoda asks, invoking both the open arms of Walt Whitman and the BP oil spill; 'Let us promise to put ourselves to better use than a wedding dress.' Big sets of long sentences give way to great gaps that suggest destruction or trauma, a blank homecoming whose 'garden has gone/ White with guano from the bombs.' Shimoda's sequences have one eye on the very contemporary conditions of our current wars, the other on the expansive, postsurrealist techniques of the 1970s. With his 'creative calculations of darkness/ Wanting after the ghost,' his sometimes dreamlike takes on coastal landscapes, and his drifting recollection, Shimoda can seem to ramble, to lose control. Yet that loss at its best becomes the precondition for a reckless power, a knowingly foolhardy, sometimes comic investigation of what our instincts know. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Brandon Shimoda's collaborations, drawings and writings have appeared in print, online, on vinyl and on walls. He is the author of THE ALPS (Flim Forum Press, 2008), THE GIRL WITHOUT ARMS (Black Ocean, 2011) and O BON (Litmus Press, 2011), among other books of variable length. He is also the co-author of numerous works with poet Phil Cordelli, under the working title, The Pines.