Monday, May 12, 2014

Trace - Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Trace.  Simone Muench.  Black Lawrence Press.  Pittsburgh, PA.  2014.

"Hence, my writing is, if not a cabinet of fossils,
                a kind of collection of flies in amber..
                               —Marianne Moore

The poems in Trace are made up of a curious mix of lines from other poets.  Yet Simone Muench has no problem mining her LoboHeart nature and delivers us a staccato sharp missive about live and love and death.

Wolf Cento

I saw my life like a wolf loping along the road—
a glint of bone, visible & then gone,
a landscape altered.
Ideas, hair, fingers
fall & come to naught.
A shirt blows across the field.
A shrug of stars as flowers go out on the sea.
Maybe the whole world is absentminded
or floating. The flower, the weather,
the room empties its mind of me,
the sea-pulse of my utterance.
I have stood for a long time
at the edge of a river, unknown, nameless,
hands groping for the shape of the animal.
Not knowing what all the music had been hiding.


These poems are a quest, an imploring search to discover our animal nature and they are a stained glass type exploration of the nature of creativity.

These poems, made up of fragments, lines, phrases, from other people's poetry, sing as one voice. Muench has borrowed hundreds of fragments to find the right shard, the right colour, the right hue. And it works.

These poems do not read like a quilt made of patches - this is the finest seamstress action going. Muench has seamlessly brought many disparate voices into unison.

Wolf Cento

Stunned by gold, we see coming
in full gallop, at vertiginous speed, the last sun,
frail orbits, green tries, games of starts.
We are looking for a way to live
as the she-wolf of these clouds tumbles
down through stricken dawn-dark, slanting
through the quadrant seasons, deep
between vineyards rows. With her teeth
the she-wolf reaches the blonde braid of a star,
a thing of gleaming: a radiant evanescence
the blue dogs paw.       Lick the dew
opening beautifully inside my brain
where everything is green like quetzal flowers
or the light in the skull of a bird
or a thousand tropics in an apple blossom—
What's there: the endless clear country road,
a cold drink before sunset & then a bed.
We are looking for a way to live.


Simone Muench's Trace won the Black River Chapbook Competition.

Wolf Cento

What do we leave, living?
Always the silence remains kneeling—
each letter a closed house.
& what comes after, looking back
on the mind itself, looking for home
as night drifts up like a little boat
or a pattern of small flowers.
There a screen of vertical timber,
trees fade over into fog
just as bodies flow
safe from the wolf's black jaw.


Simone Muench is the author of The Air Lost in Breathing (Marianne Moore Prize; Helicon Nine, 2000), Lampblack & Ash (Kathryn A. Morton Prize; Sarabande, 2005), OrangeCrush (Sarabande, 2010) and Disappearing Address, co-written with Philip Jenks (BlazeVOX, 2010).  some of her honors include a 2013 NEA Poetry Fellowship, A Yaddo residency, 2011 and 2012 Vermont Studio Center Fellowships, Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, a Lewis Faculty Scholar Award, and PSA's Bright Lights Big Verse Award.  She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is an associate professor at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies, and serves as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

"Simone Muench's wolf centos are an astonishing poetic achievement.  They are both gorgeous and dangerous, powerful and sleek, elusive yet alluring.  Ultimately, the poems are like wolves themselves—they are mysterious, we want to see them and to know them.  What is most amazing is how Muench manages to construct poems from lines and fragments of other poems that are as intense, as charged, and as revelatory as a typical Simone Muench poem.  I wonder if there is anything she cannot do.  This is one of the most intriguing books of poems I've read in the last several years."
     Dean Rader

"Simone Muench traces the outline of loss in the shape of a wolf.  Part howl, part flower, this brilliant and passionate new collection of poetry combines quotations with memory.  Muench leaves traces of other writers' lines on the forest floor for readers to follow, path to a fairy tale in which animals swallow human emotions and humans turn feral by starlight.  Trace highlights Muench's dazzling delirious wordplay, her poems double as musical notation, sound detached from referent that exists purely for the pleasures of the tongue."
     Carol Guess

Simone Muench, reading in a video with Mathais Svaliner and Jason Koo.  This video is from the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.  Simone Muench starts from the beginning and reads until 15:10.

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