Showing posts with label Amy King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amy King. Show all posts

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wings of Desire by Amy King

Wings of Desire  / BY AMY KING

This is what it sounds like outside,
fat geese and guinea hens holding hands.
I am 31, which is very young for my age.
That is enough to realize I’m a pencil that has learned
how to draw the Internet. I explain squiggles
diagramming exactly how I feel and you are drawn to read
in ways you cannot yet. Slow goes the drag
of creation, how what’s within comes to be without,
which is the rhythmic erection of essence.
Life’s little deaths, petite orgasms, as the French nearly said
but never came to. Feathers outstrip the weather
as we stand with binoculars inquiring how
winged creatures can hold their blood to warmth
without a proper insulation system overlaying circulation.
That is, sans fat and simple wooden bones with hair glued on.
Mostly though they pulsate on the horizons of backlit vision,
where we only meet the subways with handshakes,
the rainbow filters of downloaded electronica,
the telephone poles as archaic checkpoints to past cultures.
They don’t have screens to seek their cues in.
We drift from one culture to another and fight
the stitcheries of racism, classism,
anti-Muslim terrorists among us,
with overlaps in the complete dis-ease our bodies
settle into for next to no resistance.
So we create something else.
As in, roughshod moments of fake hate
will position a fluid hello of death rattles
that settle for the injunction of existence and state:
Here am I made manifest by not being you,
by not going in the same unsteady destination,
by not asking the questions or repeating
the paintings that came before me,
by not singing in the register of  your bubble baths
as you hug that person close in a wish to outlast
bullets, even as the light leaves your eyes
just a little next time we overlap paths.
So the hens and geese make us think in terms of help
outside, how they flap and move with fat ease in front of trains,
across the chopping block, to the hungry winters of final leviathans,
even as they land just so on the wires above us,
and we go on complaining, murderous, too far out, unspoken.

Like the man said and the woman toasted, this poem is a stream of hot verbs, adjectives and metaphors that link the perennial  quest for self-definition with the blunt truths about realizing that the world is merely a unsolvable phenomena that cares less of our unique personalities and exists only as a plain where other self-defined entities meet and learn to get along and love or to further dig in their teeth , gnash their respective rows of teeth and fight, with bricks, with bottles, with sex, with words. It is a struggle either as negotiation or war sans army  or navy, the playthings of the interior world come into the waking life and those of us with the habit of insisting that first thoughts are the best and most accurate find out rapidly or in drawn-out decades that it is not enough to express yourself or exclaim your philosophy of the moment to an existence that is abstract and other, it is more a matter of being yourself in  the midst of circumstances that don't know your name, of relating less theory to the community around you and more of the insight of lived experience , of  having been wrong and right in equal measures over the years and finding a true irony that allows you and the world to lean closer together, as if to kiss, to hug, to rejoice in the presence of people and places that don't repel you with secret identities and unspoken alternate plans. Amy King is a fevered search not for the absolute, for the genuine.

 What I love about Amy King's poems is the collisions she sets forth, the speed of her connections, how often her observance of the commonplace strikes a target, how fluidly accurate her remarks are, how truthfully dumbfounding the ironies are.  "Wings of Desire" is all of this, of course, a debate those parts of the self that want to rule an interior perfection where it is always elegance at a whim, and the those other elements of personality that look out the window of the soul to world that it wants to be a part of, to be in love with, to conquer, to change and to merge as one with. Hers is a detailed Baedeker guide at a little over the legendary 45 RPM; it's hardly a matter of noticing telling details of the constructions, social and material, that form the resemblances between our Ideal Types and their expression on the Physical Plain, this is also a series of voices from inside the perception that sees the flaws in the design, the dysfunction of the results, the turmoil the best intentions create. Here is poetry about shaking your head, running your hands through your hair, gathering your wits and deciding, after road-testing your theories for decades, to be yourself, finally, unashamed of your talent, unembarrassed by your desires. You cease to be a problem to solve. Like a poem, you do not mean. You be.

 Amy King is fast and blunt and writes in lovely, magnificently fast lines that are something like the quicksilver bebop of Parker, the modal transformations of Coltrane, the hard-shovel digging of a McLaughlin; in all this accelerated, excited revelation, though, is tenderness, the center of the heart that is at war with its own contrary impulses, a consciousness that seeks the true center of being in the eyes of others it seeks to be connected to. King's is a poetry of that desire and those mad flights. Her poems are about love and touching, groping, kissing, caring, finding a truth beyond words that cures the senses. Her poems are manic and magic and the sort of thing that gets me thinking and back to the keyboard, writing my own crazy language.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The lop sided divide

Poet Amy King went to some effort to compile some discouraging statistics regarding women writers and the ratio of literary awards given between men and women. The survey, published here in Willa, show that for all the talk about the great distance women have come since the bad old days, the lion's share of the top prizes , with the attendant status and acclaim, still go to men.  For all the talk of progress in the task of leveling the playing field, not much distance has been gained.

A large part of the problem, perhaps intractable, is the nature of the awards themselves; most of the ones we think matter–the Nobel, The Pulitzer, The National Book Award, The PEN Awards– were founded by male editors , who created categories and criteria reflecting their aesthetic, which is male, straight and, for all they knew, the single standard by which other writers are to measured. Women writers have made gains in terms of critical reception and the receipt of awards, but the standards by which women are judged, I fear, is whether they write as well as a better known male.

Lorrie Moore is constantly compared to John Cheever, Nikki Giovanni cannot escape being contrasted against Amiri Baraka; well intentioned critics try to explain the inevitable alignments, but the enterprise of letting the girls into the boy’s domain seems a faithless affirmative action move. I am reminded that Dick Cavett had said to his guest Susan Sontag that her name is unavoidable linked to the term “intellectual”. Sontag responded that the journalists doubtlessly think they are doing her a favor by telling readers that she’s a smart woman, but noted that male writers don’t need their introductions so qualified. She said that no one felt compelled to say that Norman Mailer was an intellectual when his name came up. It was taken for granted. The sad truth is that I think this onerous habit of keeping women writers at the margins will continue until there is a new canon formation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slaves to do These Things: Amy King

Slaves to do These Things
poems by Amy King

Amy King's writing is at once brainy yet coursing with a perceptible sensuality, are among the best of the post-modernist, post-Language, post-confessional style where we have. She is a writer who has surmounted the collective, generationally situated surprise that our native tongue is, in essence, slippery when it comes to addressing our experience and who has gotten on with an interrogation of both the templates one has absorbed from birth and the ones accrued through living long enough to modify one's narrative.

There is no defeatism here, no smallish voice sighing over disappointments, no staccato -cadenced anger replaying old wounds. Amy King comes through these poems, not as a survivor nor someone inclined to obscure the bare facts of her life and the reading she brought with her, but rather a poet with a firm grip on the co-agitations of joy and subtler anguish.

The wonder is that there not a place one senses that they've come across someone who thinks it's time to address themselves in a disguised past tense; these are the wonderings, inspections, musings of someone too enthralled with the discussion underway to worry what the final word will be. What hasn't been said yet is nothing to worry about, but to anticipate as a hard-verbed, sexily ironic entree to what one doesn't already know.

King's verse is sharp, witty, moving in ways that are made powerful by the emotional nuance her line breaks contain; there is the sense that everything one knew is wrong, after all, and yet it stands as a reasonably reliable filter through which one may continue their negotiation with the metaphysically inclined whispers--the ghostly reminders objects, places, faces can awake and send a chill down your spine. There is an analytical rigor here, but not cerebralization of one's history. One witnesses the sort of appreciation of personal multi-valence; the meaning of King's life has changed due to the texts she's absorbed, and her experience, in turn, has changed the meanings of the books she has been given.

Choice and recommended.