Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A New Quaratine Will Take My Place

Göransson, Johannes. A New Quarantine Will Take My Place. Apostrophe Books, 2007.

Göransson's Quarantine contains sections composed of both prose and verse in an effort to produce “a story of the death of narrative” (5) wherein the speaker attempts to “be more obscure” (10) by filling his poems “with all this excess” (11). And what is “all this excess”? For starters, excess “involve[s] gibberish anatomies” (13), or continual reconstructions of the body that function as “stylistic impulses of...decorative patterns” (24), providing readers with a physiology that mutates from sentence to sentence, page to page, and poem to poem. The speaker begins by informing us that: “I need to paint my torso to look more like a torso” (17), thus positing a “need” to aestheticize his “torso” in a representational manner (i.e. “more like a torso”). But the desire for a torso to resemble a torso soon dissipates, as one encounters a “barked torso” (23), a “flocked torso” (24), a torso on which a “poem [is] engraved” (26), another which contains “an entire October of birds” and a “travesty of stiches” (27). While the torso undergoes ceaseless alterations, the poem reminds us of the “futility of reconstruction” (26), and the inability of these metamorphoses to produce a stable subjectivity, presence, or “totalizing narrative” (41). Of course, to the speaker's mind, this is not necessarily a negative consequence; in fact, there appears to be certain amount of disdain for such concepts when he states: “If I had my choice, I wouldn't even be here” (31): complete absence of the self: becoming-imperceptible. The pay-off, then, is vocalized in the process of transformation itself, a new evolution of the physical and conceptual self sung throughout the poems. In other words, the speaker celebrates his ability “to fit so many/ disparate parts in my mouth at once” (35). It should come as no surprise, then, that he tells us several times: “I wish I were...Darwin” (17). Another technique Göransson employs throughout his collection is the incorporation of “PERFORATION[S]” and “MORE PERFORATION[S]” (79) within many of the poems that rupture their trajectory, both linguistically and materially. For instance, one-third of the way through the poem “Retina, Ignite,” the poet uses an entire page for the phrase “REVULSION AS/ AN ANTIDOTE TO/ EXPERIMENTAL/ POETRY” (25), interrupting the syntactical unit (i.e. sentence) on the previous page so that “The birds are trying to escape” (24 and 26) is separated within the artifact, as well as linguistically, and spliced by the “REVULSION” phrase. Such “PERFORATION[S],” no doubt, aid in the dissolution of “totalizing narratives” by displacing the audience and forcing them outside of the poem's narrative. Finally, the poem “Postcards” is a series of letters, or postcards, written to a variety of characters and inanimate objects; they tend to be short, blithe, and rather light-hearted in tone, relative to the rest of the collection.

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