(Omnidawn Publishing, 

2012) 

 

Meier’s title describes a real position within a hypothetical object, a contradictory state the volume’s poems then try to realize. While we encounter neither purity nor a total imaginary, 
we do get 
fifty-two blocks of prose

poetry 

whose 

formal 

coherence 

and

 variation assert the verse potentials of the genre, the weeks of its year. For Meier, to be “in” is to begin describing situation, but for this poet nothing is improper to phenomenal and social situation, especially what’s not there. This method of association tracks the nothing that is not there and the nothing that is until “Nothing says, in the grid of the associations’ dark wood of roots and swaled flowers in the meadow, or in the grammar grid....” Seeing
what isn’t,
“the
death of 
the subject, squeezing you so tightly to its side,” also extends to genre: each of the book’s
seven 
sections 
is prefaced 
by a small 
lineated
poem 
in 
which 
the 
first 
phrases  of that section’s prose poems are cento’d together to produce verse: 

 

     A negative construct—
     When a man can
     sing—Each little bird
     sings—Brother in a
     previous life—More
     or less—The patience
     of the trees—One day
     a long detour—The
     mason dumps—The
     dissatisfied couldn’t 
stand 

 

The enjambment after the second line lets us know this is a crafted poem rather than 
a
playful
riff
on 18th-c. chapter
summaries (though it’s that too), another possibility cut from the prose block of the whole. This little lyric superintendence sings negatively what the book’s prose will posit as plenitude, an extensive syntax deferring certainty while “collapsing westward” in its “meadow without line breaks”: “When a man can sing and he is singing what I am thinking is how he can be singing here.” This independence within subordination (“what” as temporarily the direct object of both “singing” and “thinking,” the place of their convergence) is an essential feature of the prose style, allowing fugitive potentials to hover in the determinate grammar. It’s a feature of all prose syntax that we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s done, but Meier raises the successive nature of information from feature to virtue till we think “we saw something real” multiplying in the syntax. One poem describing two 
statues 

in 

a 

park 

could 

be 

figuring 

the 

prose 

itself: 

 

The pigeons have their own vortex, but for each one, or flock, depending on how many are particular to the windows of the buildings, the intersection, the spikes in the station, to clothe the problem in its historical costume, and the statues, a pair on horseback or one divided, from each of whose upraised hand the spear has been thrown, though it looks stolen, and was, despite the affect, sculpted missing.

 

Sculpting poetry’s negative spaces in prose depends on getting lost in elaboration, on 
sustaining that elaborateness
through
constant qualification,
and on
the
consideration of serial perspectives (“depending,” “a pair...or one divided”) until the statue’s empty hand looks full of having thrown something. This prose that “stopped singing to
say...lots of free things” scales indefinition 
up 
to
the plane
of
the
book—none of the prose pieces have titles, nor do the sections; the book’s language, which has already demonstrated its ability to make verse out of prose in its prefaces, also remains undecidably athwart the formal divisions it’s in: is it one
poem
or
fifty-two
poems, or seven marked by section breaks? One poem records this as the desire to be in “three places at once” and the poem before it as “a third possibility going out and never coming back while staying home and never leaving out.” I hear the dithering beginning of Ashbery’s Three Poems here, but also Meier’s own distinct ambition to celebrate “the effort of suspension involved in completing sentences, in hearing the sentences complete over the course of a long string of phrases, the music of the dependent adverbial clause, which seemed to include both openness and closure” (interview with Rusty Morrison). Coming after both Ashbery and the practitioners of the New Sentence, this prose retains their trust in a precision without focus, decoupling the fate of the sentence from determination, from the “distortion” of “assigning the flower...a single
sensation”; but Meier has relicensed himself to imagine a whole rather than just the drift of the multiple, “attempting to name a network to
set 
against
the 
network” while believing, 
or wanting to believe, that “[e]very trip to the right margin is a little incursion into the spectacle,” perhaps because it makes its way by refusing to choose “between the statements: beneath an apparent unity, a thousand dissident styles; beneath an apparent dissidence, a thousand unitary styles.”    

 

 

                                                                                                              

 

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio

Buy Lana Turner #9

Issue 9 is HERE!

Order Now

@ltjournal on Twitter