Monday, October 22, 2012

Two new [Red Missed Aches] reviews

Wendy Vardaman, in her mash-up review-essay of twelve recent books by women, "Red Miss Takes, or A Little Pink In Your Cover/ Color Scheme," writes:
[Red Missed Aches] is a collaboration between text and visual material: drawings, photos, and art, between art that is created and found art, and between languages: Spanish, English, Spanglish. [...] Tamayo’s reaches out, body imprisoned by body, signifying citizenship and witness.

Arielle Greenberg, from her essay, "The Blurred, Visionary Promise of Hybridized Poetics" (APR 41.5, Sept./Oct. 2012): 

And what of gender and race and ethnicity, of border crossing and marginalization? These concerns seem to almost demand, topically, a hybridized form, and there must be something to the fact that, when looking through stacks and stacks of new books in search of the hybrid, I came up with a pile of work mostly by women, people of color, and immigrants.

All of this comes to fruition in Jennifer Tamayo’s Red Missed Aches/Read Missed Aches/Red Mistakes/Read Mistakes: I have saved the best for last here, in my opinion. In this virtuosi tic debut (which name-checks Cha, along with McSweeney and Zucker, as some of many sources and inspirations), Tamayo stitches—literally stitches: three-dimensionally reproduced red thread, with all its associations (surgical, girly, corrective, domestic, spiritual) stabs through many of its pages—together a narrative/memoir/investigation of migration, family, language, and sexuality. “Play surgeon o seamstress,” the book begins, under a reproduction of the Christ child held by Mary, a snapshot of the author’s mother sewn onto the Virgin’s face. In the poem “(Before, After),” Tamayo writes, “This is / a figuring & fingering / This is an utter a fuck a suture.”

This attention to layering, wonderfully expressed through the title, results in a gratifyingly complex work, full of textual and visual collage overlaps; intersections between languages, ethnicities, nationalities, generations and identities; mishearings and linguistic slippage in the forms of synonyms, heteronyms, patois and slangs; word and image erasures and ruptures. Tamayo’s book winds its way, tightly and messily, like tangled thread, through issues of motherhood, mothering, motherlands, and mother tongues. “There is nothing clean about this writing,” she writes in “(Dear, Lover).” Like Dictee, it’s an ambitious and inventive project that at its core is deeply personal and evocative.

But even so, even in looking at a book like Tamayo’s that I’m sure can still shock, baffle and unnerve many readers of contemporary poetry, I wonder what is limiting us, as poets, in our utilization of the vast possibilities of genre and “book.” Are we able to see a way to a literature that genuinely pushes past the page and into a performative, electronic, or otherwise uncontainable realm, while still deserving the ink and pulp to be read and reread?

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