Delivering the Moment
By Robert Savino Oventile
Exhibiting a marvelous writerly sprezzatura, Sandy Florian makes English her instrument for her seemingly effortless yet beautifully composed and forcefully imaginative Prelude to Air from Water. A set of prose poems, Prelude dramatizes characters grappling with given moments in time. The work challenges the reader to confront the moments the characters often rebuff, bungle, or suffer. In bending for the reader aesthetic sensation, cosmological speculation, and self-revelation toward their asymptotic rendezvous in the moment, Prelude joins traditions of thought about the moment tagged with such names as Plato, Boethius, Dante, Goethe, Kierkegaard, and Woolf. For such authors, in various ways, the realization of irrecoverable chances to encounter beauty, the cosmos, and the self depends on the sojourner's stance toward the moment and toward the others crossing the moment. So very much rides on reading the moment.
By Roger Sedarat
Like Mark Yakich's first book of poetry, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross (National Poetry Series) (2003 winner of the National Poetry Series), The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Poets, Penguin) thrives upon the post-modern play of language. Such a critical observation no doubt sounds reductive. Ironically, this poet indeed reproduces the act of killing the letter--through the trope of what, for lack of a better term we must call "reality" or "the real world"--as a last ditch effort to revivify the spirit of verse in the twenty-first century. Though so many books published today adopt a version of this project, few do so as effectively as this one.
By Dylan Winchock
Many critics in both the modern and postmodern camps seem to feel that the avant-garde has been lost with the advancement of global media and large-scale commercial enterprise. How can an art remain outside the clutches of the 'mainstream' in this day and age? How effective can a radical art be from within the mainstream? I would argue that the avant-garde, though originally rooted in modernism, can still prove an effective form of superstructural negotiation once recontextualized through postmodernism. It can shed the elitist label that it had tried so desperately - and unsuccessfully - to avoid in the past, and can reenter the public sphere. This new imagining of the avant-garde will emerge from a conscious intersection of class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality; and borrowing from the tactics of the marginal and disenfranchised, it can work towards mending the separation of art and politics, while remaining mobile against future reification.