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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mamaist: a different sort of light
A Review of mamaist: a different sort of light
by Alan Botsford

Spencer Dew

“After all, doesn’t milk sound like a miracle?” Not dada, then, but something more nourishing, nudging the unfurl of a seed, “fern-like, out from under / every moment, a tongue, a feather, a flame lifting into the air,” a smell like fresh-baked bread and rich, tilled soil.

While there’s mention here of the notorious nobodaddies—“Uncle-Sam-I-Am” up in the sky—of patriarchal pasts and presents, the gift of this collection is to focus us elsewhere than the phallocentric “I.” Indeed, here, that “I” is surrendered to the wind of words, “a mamaist Daedalus” falling, equipped “with traits of artist and . . . rawness of answers” who nonetheless is confronted in due course with “the coming of gnomic as the cosmic of comics.”

From the hum and crackle of electrotherapy to the notion of light as love, a warm enveloping—from the dark that crows speak of, each to each, to dream horses that may be metaphors for everything but are also just precisely what they are in any given, shifting, moment—such sources are mined via a generous generative. One poem, for instance, is collaged out of titles of City Lights books. Others ask questions such as What if Dante had gotten distracted on his walk? and What if all true writing “is a translation from somewhere” unknown?

The mamaist stance or sensibility, then, is to submit to this, to open oneself, surrendering the self bit, and then

to be taking lessons from the cosmos, in pain and in joy . . . to learn how to walk the dizzying edge between two worlds—how, for instance, to enter a house shoeless like a ghost, how, whenever you read, to read from finish to start; how to eat words—still wriggling and writhing in your mouth—raw, and with a nod of your head to look for the next sentence to be complete...

Official Alan Botsford Web Site

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