Monday, June 23, 2008

Judith Roitman publishes No Face with First Intensity Press

Judith Roitman's first full-length book selects from her chapbooks Diamond Notebooks (nominative press collective) and Slippage (Potes & Poets); in addition she adds another hundred or so pages. This is a generous collection of almost 200 pages.

Her inventiveness is apparent in every piece, as well as leaps--not just from conscious to subconscious in the Robert Bly sense, but leaps as in the sense of reality colliding in too-real, too-unexpected combinations. She is an original.

Here is "Tunnel" (p. 158):

You enter into it but it's somewhere else.
I don't know how you live in your body.
I don't know who lives in your body.
There's too much music.
You can't get away from it.

I like how the pronoun "you" slides between determinate and indeterminate. Is this the impersonal "one," as in "you know"? Or is this a second person she addresses? Or the reader, you?

No easy answers with this poet. And another oddity: the book will be for sale on the Target website. Has Lee Chapman of First Intensity signed a deal with Target? Mass distribution?
I never know what to expect next.

Here are blurbs from the back cover:

"With a mind opening up to anything and everything, Judith Roitman records the living facts of direct personal experience as they happen. She does this with the discipline of straightforward, simple language, '... although the temptation is always to hold onto something ... but still the refusal to change anything, not even one word, as when the mind has stopped noticing that it notices prematurely...' Even when they are framed by the memory or narrative, events or words are allowed the seemingly absurd juxtapositions of different levels of interconnectedness. A brilliant collection"--Janet Rodney.

"Roitman's distinct and elegant line runs through a large variety of forms, breaking now at close intervals, now at deep breaths, now at the margin, now at the period. The line disappears altogether, into white space that is equally distinct, leaving the words in array. Then this unbroken space becomes a matrix for the whole. The result is a poetry of ongoing spiritual awakening, continual without progression; a redemption from the 'false hope set up by grammar' whereby one is not so much blessed as nonplussed. Which is enough"--Cyrus Console.