Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. Art. THE GROUND I STAND ON IS NOT MY GROUND, selected by Forrest Gander as the winner of Drunken Boat's 2014 poetry book contest, is a hybrid of poetry and digital art. The poems erase historical documents related to the development and aftermath of the Pacific War, especially on the island of Okinawa. Erased into poems, these texts become spare narratives of how individual soldiers' and civilians' daily lives were transformed by the war. Using QR codes, each poem links to an interactive version at the book's companion website, where readers can explore original documents ranging from government documents and political manifestos to travel narratives, blockbuster adventure fiction, and science writing. Taken together, the poems and their original texts tell a larger story about the ways we imagine war, and the ways language can be used to record, justify, memorialize, or resist it.
This is the best book of erasure poems since Srikanth Reddy's Voyager. Nogues carves critical observations into slow motion (erasure isolating and elongating time) so that we seem to see inside the body's gestures. The book is an intense meditation on war, riddled with aporia and drawing on many resources--documentary, epistolary, and even rhyming lyric- --to create an empathic and deeply affecting experience of contact with the devastation war brings and with the pain about to come.--Forrest Gander
Collier Nogues is nothing short of brilliant in this necessary book, which lights up a long shadow two big governments have cast on a miraculous island and an indigenous people. Nogues comprehends how any war is a continuum of the same hell, yet each experience is specific: the chronic trauma of surviving amid the dead, the way history makes a war a narrative but the participants (victims/survivors/casualties) experience it only in fragments. The speakers of these poems are visionary; they are one of us. And if we can see that, we can see what Nogues has envisioned here, see how our world can change in the direction of mercy, human dignity, survival.--Brenda Shaughnessy
Collier Nogues, who grew up on a U.S. military base in Okinawa, explores how war has shaped the island of her childhood. Taken together, these poems not only express a desire to erase violence, but they also attempt to map the topography of islands and nations, caves and embrasures, weapons and flags, grace and dread. Nogues is a brave poet who disassembles the official discourses of empire to articulate a dream for an island of peace.--Craig Santos Perez