Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review of Paul Chan at Fanzine

My review of Paul Chan's Greene Naftali show, "Sade for Sade's sake," is now up up at Fanzine.

"Chan's tarrying with the negative also comes across in a series of poems he wrote from 2005 through 2009, Texts, in which many of the words of the poem are crossed out. These "erasures" (the popular term for poetic texts produced by the crossing-out of words) form interesting language effects. Reading the poems for a first time, the words that are crossed-out stand out. Reading them a second time, I read them without the cross-outs. The meaning differs radically depending on whether you read the poem with or without the cross-outs; the first reading yielding a wildly aphoristic poetry, the lines of the poem wending and cutting-off like a poem by Emily Dickinson or Robert Creeley, the second reading yielding something more bare. In the second reading you get something radically reduced, yet equally pithy and contradictory—like a koan or revolutionary slogan from May ‘68. These poems I read beside much of my favorite lyrical poems being written today for the ways that they foreground dialectic tension, and negotiate a theoretical lingo with common speech."

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