Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jane Sprague's The Port of Los Angeles

I recall fondly visiting Jane and her lovely family in Long Beach, CA where I read with Rob Halpern for her events series Long Beach Notebook. We drove together to LA where along the way we passed the ports of which Jane is a scholar and a dire lyricist*...

The Port of Los Angeles
by Jane Sprague
72 pages
ISBN 978-0925904-77-5

from The Port of Los Angeles

I was singing with a closed mouth

singing thinking

sing no more anger between me
sing no more stillness no breakwater

sing come away slowly
sing carry me home

to no home

In this collection of interlocking texts, Sprague adroitly intersperses the distributive dimensions of material and cultural international commerce and its strange-making effects (as on your daily donk of style, and the shine it gets from being commodity No. 1). The Port of Los Angeles has moved this reader from somewhere--to somewhere else. My bet is that many others can catch the rapid ride too. Sprague's vigorous no-bones vocability springs off of every page, and the droids are plotting to revolt!" --Rodrigo Toscano

Part post-industrial sea chantey, part epiphany against the "economies of loss" that expand exponentially with each morning's news that struggles to stay news, Jane Sprague's The Port of Los Angeles offers us a rare and varied thick description (with Whitmanesque undertows) of those moments when our living-breathing-trying-to-pay-the-bills-selves meet the vast expanse that is the seemingly boundless sea. "John Steinbeck was right," the poet writes. And Jane Sprague certainly is, too." --Mark Nowak

*dire is a term I have often heard Sprague use to designate recent lyrical poetries critical of language's complicity with "natural" and social disaster.

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