Category: Whitney Kerutis

REVIEW: Ending in Planes by Ruth Ellen Kocher

 

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By Whitney Kerutis

I read Ending In Planes with the pounding fists of an interrogating child as Ruth Ellen Kocher’s lines morph themselves into the finger that points and declares, “It is that!” before pulling off and re-aiming. The imagery and metaphors attempting to reinterpret themselves in order to name the most combustible qualities of human entanglements.

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These entanglements questioned and situated between an “I” and “you” throughout the collection of poems, often identify through images of landscapes and domestic trucs:

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In these metaphors and tangible frames, the reader begins to see the encountering of people as construction, seasonal, uprooted only to be replanted. The physicality of the encounter located and yet evading detection, or perhaps evading settlement. In this act of projection, the “I” feels emboldened, raising the brow, leaning inwards, and peeling… off, what? The self-projection, the “you’s” outer layer, the act of domestication, of power dynamics, of the destruction of touch, love and loss and movement…rek3Let us not forget, the lyric that entwines itself through the line, the page, the book. The lyric, a driving force from one image to the next, coming to an end before lifting itself up and out once more. I felt my mind contracting and releasing in the poetry’s music, the way one explores the spine’s range:

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In the space between the lines, the blank space of the page, I find the finger once more pointing outward, accusing me of my own violence, of my own shifting weight.

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Ending In Planes is a collection of poetry that aims and re-aims; a book of language pushing against language and then through it. Winner of the 2013 Noemi Press Poetry Award, Ruth Ellen Kocher has created a book of multiple landscapes for language to expand outward.

Available from Noemi Press: $ 15.00

Whitney Kerutis lives in Denver, Colorado and is working on her MFA in Creative Writing for poetry at The University of Colorado Boulder.

 

 

REVIEW: Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust

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Read our recent interview with Rebecca Foust here.

by Whitney Kerutis

Rebecca Foust’s Paradise Drive is a collection of modern sonnets. Her book is a series of poems that couple the characteristics of the traditional sonnet with pedestrian themes and trucs. In this act of marbling, the sonnets play their cords from our own rib cages, driving lyrics out of reality— no longer does the sonnet seem gifted to us by muses but from our daily strifes, our internal battle between self-realized and refused identity within society. Modernity becomes siren through the adapted sonnet:

Take me, says this long, languid lick
of limestone and slate-roof house

corseted by a whalebone- thin fence
anyone could unlace

and

Then remember
you, daughter, born in a scarlet welter
on a wave’s green-curled edge of pain.

An ode to the journey of maturation and identity, Foust’s stark declaration and images arise out of music; rhyme, alliteration and assonance bumping against slang and commercial labels:

Yes, Pilgrim’s a buzz-kill: dour, dry, dull;
what’s cool now is hurling the word,
and insult, at white racists.

Perhaps Foust’s greatest feat in the collection is her unabashed voice, which thrives between the various environments and faces:

We bloom and bloom into old age,
then fade and linger; it’s hard not to hate
those new buds that keep swelling the vine.

or

Watching the wind lash the house on the screen,
we each thought the same thought: Im not a girl.
But when the door blew open, we all felt the chill

In her declaration to the self, Foust remarkably accomplishes detail and imagery within an economy of language. Striping the sonnet of fluff and instead allowing the words to string effortlessly into clear streams of sound:

Your hands cup paper plate
into a skiff to float you away
from the continent of one man’s hunger.

Let us not forget the painful humor throughout this collection, brilliantly executed through the poet’s extensive curiosity and imagination:

It’s just—
[ time   delay ]— that last dose of Botox
was whale-size, and now I can’t smile or frown
on cue.

and

Problem: dead’s not an option here in Marin.
Fix: relocate, with upgrade, to a place
where a rat can be loved. And, with excess.
Orange County, perhaps. Or Crawford, Texas.

Paradise Drive lends itself as an example of how traditional forms of poetry can both be retained as well as manipulated to survive in the modern world of poetry. A collection of the individual voyaging through society, Rebecca Foust has proven the sonnet as an adaptable form.

Buy it from Press 53: $14.95

Whitney Kerutis lives in Denver, Colorado and is working on her MFA in Creative Writing for poetry at The University of Colorado Boulder.


REVIEW: Think Tank by Julie Carr

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by Whitney Kerutis

Think Tank is a compilation of untitled poems that work on the individual level as well as a whole, resulting in a book of multiplicity. Reading Carr’s new collection is like being a child in a long corridor of locked doors, jiggling handles. It is in Carr’s axial lines that we, the reader, reach the door that flings itself open onto ’These aimless realms of privacy.’

And it is not just the reader that acts as the intruder onto the inner self, but also the poems themselves, lying both within and outside of the words, “streaks of water between panes of glass.” The words are both present and ever throwing themselves backwards to create a state of being in the real and in the blended frames of a dream where the child-like curiosity and over exposed mind are resolved.

Through her exquisitely stark coupling of household and soul, the images of body within this work act as mediators between the two frames –

My mother wrapped me in a towel and carried me from one room
to another, combed my hair under a lamp
Her wind is taken. Her soil turned. The infinite lines. The infinite lines
The non-infinite
Ocean. O—

or

A bit of peel, a bit of hardened peel, is my face
This speaker likes obsolescence, for there is no way to mimic what has
been taken from us
I walk around, constructing, for my mother, thermal videos with my
        own body

— and we begin to sense a book of attempted resolution between the binaries of the poet: the woman and the girl, the mother and the daughter, the artist and the citizen.

Joyousness fled, sex fled: something had to restore these things
        civic volunteer plum trees, like grieving orphans, defended nothing

And yet, these resolutions arrive in great pleasure, the lines, mimicking the book’s title, act as the belly of thought, their pacing music driving us from one image to the next until we are breathing the poem.

a headlock is to a hat as a tourniquet to a condom
a headlock is to a hat as knife to tongue

What might be most commendable about this work is its expansive leaps of imagination within such an economy of space. Every line in this book is a pulsating engine, pulling the reader’s mind further into its own field of imagination, further into the poet’s chalk like mind that bleeds together color, memory and space within the images and music it weaves.

Orchid blooming
in the bed
                She’s alone now, the littlest one, though she doesn’t know it yet.

or

Banter trees and blowsy blooms, my eyes are drained of their pupils week six of rotting mouth, and my erotic fantasies focus inward:
        the edge of the edge of the knee.

Julie Carr’s, Think Tank, straddles the real and the fantasy, producing a text that disengages from itself before returning once more. The words that move the reader from the multiple minds of the poet are themselves far from arbitrary. This book succeeds in its ability to be ever morphing itself into meanings.

Think Tank is available from Solid Objects.

Whitney Kerutis is from Arizona. She received a Bachelor’s of Arts in English with a minor in French and Creative Writing from The Unviersity of Arizona and will be attending the MFA program for Creative Writing in the genre of poetry at The University of Colorado Boulder in the Fall 2015.