about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of the novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), the short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), the chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and the critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011). His Web site is spencerdew.com.

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How Much Of What Falls Will Be Left When It Gets To The Ground?
A Review of How Much of What Falls Will Be Left When It Gets To The Ground?
by Carolyn Guinzio

Spencer Dew

Many of these poems include visual images alongside the verbal ones. Buckling paint, overlaid upon a map of a metropolis, cracks merging with waterways, the irregular lines of chance leading to straight streets, neatly labeled. The idea of the infinite crackling down to a sparse, resolutely finite set of non-options: a wilderness reveals itself to be merely a reflection in a glass wall. For some of these pieces, Guinzio has taken Google Earth images of places the poet used to live and tinkered with them, demonstrating, as she says in a note at the end of the book, “the disorienting experience of virtually revisiting the past as it appears in the present,” which is also what it means to be conscious, and how it feels, how it hurts. The overlay of images results in an oscillation of perception: a house becomes so much sand, a fragility, a fading, consumes the supposedly concrete. Isn’t this how memory works, or tilts always toward failing, toward unworking? “Did you know that you would never be back there again” one poem asks, musing on trace, on surrender. Other poems worry the essential ache caused by such dynamic, irritating it the way one might irritate a loose tooth, dwelling on time, its constant depletion, the rush of such depletion, such that even “the things we freeze go on / without us as we are going on,” ghosting, as the world dissolves into so many parallel, eternally separate, ghosts. One piece repeats the word “oblivion,” printing it with less ink, greying out, disappearing into the very page. Another poem describes a folded note, “on yellow lined paper . . . caught up in the lint screen” of “a dryer at a coin laundry in a diverse neighborhood of mostly young residents in a Midwestern city in early summer,” less object than omen, accumulated long-odds of chance offering the illusion of significance, of meaning. But what, in the end, if, instead of a prophetic summons or some sort of “test,’ this piece of old, beat-up paper is nothing more than an artifact of the vicissitudes, the random currents, of fate? Such non-messages reappear throughout this volume, serving as reminders of the unplanned, the out of control, of the way our lives are subject to accident rather than some narrative hand. “Something was stuck in a tree,” which “was either egrets with blue- / tinged wings or a flapping // Wal-Mart bag.” Guinzio experiments with this dynamic of illusory messages, of the ways we invest significance in the dice throws of our lives, by building poems out of constraints. For some, she renders the requirements explicit, pairing hand-written notes of words with the pieces that were written to incorporate them, often in acrobatic ways, like using “rattlesnake” as a verb. Other poems scatter words across a page like cowrie shells when used in scrying. Parenthetical poems augment and echo the columns they flank, the way a Caribbean breeze brings its own narrative to the beach, at nightfall, two songs simultaneous, each rich with mystery, with the tantalizing effect of the unspoken, the only faintly said or smelt or seen. Only here, the traces we encounter are generally less exotic, the background verbiage of our daily lives. “[by accepting you acknowledge third party use of your data]” one poem informs us, an echo of something so common as to be unheard, a ghost from our own present, presenting itself for a final cry before disappearing, again, into oblivion.

Official Carolyn Guinzio Web Site
Official Tolsun Books Web Site

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