about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of critical study The Aliites: Race and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali (University of Chicago Press, 2019), novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011), chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008).

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A Review of Infinity Standing Up
by Drew Pisarra

Spencer Dew

What says love like a sonnet, or a whole set of them, a whole book chock-a-block with that fine, rhyming form? The forty here are “generally Shakespearean,” “true to form” while also resolutely—even outrageously—of our moment, a time of booty texts and “post-boink” tacos, where sex features “a range of derangements for the butt” and the “hundred proof sweated out of your armpits.” Not that, in honor of the genre, there’s not plenty of classiness here, smuggled in alongside dick pics on Grindr and Scruff. Indeed, lovers here discuss “The Story of O, the dying of bees.” The Golden Ass, in these pages, isn’t merely a nerdy lit reference, but how clever that it is always also that, too! When one partner observes, perhaps a bit too breathily and with too much effort, that “Love never ends,” his partner offers the quick rejoinder: “Well neither does pi.” These are smart poems, at their smartest in the realization that wit won’t save—and rarely effectively salves—the pain and confusion that comes in the wake of a failed affair, or a not-even-quite affair that nonetheless manages to leave one party wrecked, lost, and aching. Pi is a fit metaphor for something here, but it’s not love; rather, the inverse, the absence, the lack, the longing. The speculative math of contemporary eros—love by algorithm, or at least supposedly string-less yet spectacularly complicated hookups on demand—is linked here to a profound sense of missed connection. There’s the ass-backwards-ness of how relationships, these days, so often start (“I’ve seen your body but never your face, / stared at your cock but not into your eyes.”), but also a seemingly infinite amount of pain. Poems proliferate as a breakup sputters on and on; guilt results from the pursuit of pleasure, or at least a feeling of being creepy for facilitating another horny fellow’s cheating; nevermind the sense of chasing after something always already long absent (“I / knew all along he wasn’t you, dear ex, / but he was there for me and sex is sex.”) Sex is, indeed, sex, and thank God for it and all, but the poems here wail and sign over the fact that it isn’t enough—though they also have some praises to sing about the ways in which it is plenty and more, too, at the same time. It’s the entanglement, the whole messy package, that is the prompting problem behind these witty and affective poems. Do you even remember me? Did your time with me matter, did my touch, my taste, my voice, my smell? These are questions older than Shakespeare, for sure; poets will be writing sonnets on such topics as long as we, as people, equipped with whatever apps for connecting in the flesh, exist.

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