This Real. concetta principe. Pedlar Press. St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. 2017.
Today's book of poetry has been down the concetta principe poetry highway before. Back in February of 2016 Today's book of poetry looked at principe's Walking (Punchy Poetry/DC Books, 2013) and admired it very much. You can see that here:
Since then, Today's book of poetry has had the pleasure of reading principe's 2016 Hiroshima: A
Love War Story (Pedlar Press) and now we have This Real in our grubby little maw. principe flies at a higher altitude than Today's book of poetry can usually manage. Her poems take some work, they demand a particular level of participation from the reader.
This Real is another principe title of erudite poems that read like today's history from an informed inside source. principe is in no way concerned with the status quo, instead This Real quotes liberally from Sefer Yetzirah's The Book of Formation or Creation (as translated by Aryeh Kaplan) and her text reads like another sort of secret manuscript.
from Storm Advancing From Paradise
assuming that the end of times was her, coinciding with the Tarot reading of
death, followed by the end of her marriage: la vie morte; assuming that her heart,
ruined by divorce, was miraculously remade with immortal substance one night;
assuming this to be a vision, not a dream, because this new organ burned inside
her with such force that she was sure it would burst into flames, 6 there on the
bus, in front of all these strangers; she gained a new perspective on death and
the human race... it was inevitability of these end times that gripped her. 7 the
pressure for ending is tremendous, carried by the force (majeure) of the first cause.
the end of the world was--measure it--nigh.
6 "if your heart runs, return to the place" (SY 1:8)
7 "a flame in burning coal" (SY 1:7)
John Lennon and Mary Magdalene debate the possibility of "fireballs from heaven" while "manic harlots" and other psychiatric patients paint in windowless rooms. There isn't much cheer in principe's prose poems, not an abundance of optimism in this world view but the poems themselves compel the reader further and deeper.
Sefer Yetzirah's The Books of Creation inform the text of principe's poetry for most of the duration of This Real but that isn't enough drama, no, principe changes gears just long enough to crawl into a bear-cave with Werner Herzog and his mad view of optimism. Walter Benjamin provides some geo-sensitive time clock for this human experiment.
In truth, Today's book of poetry could barely keep up with some of the concepts concetta principe throws around like a genius frisbee lofted with counterspin and precision. I called in some of the troops for help, Today's book of poetry does not care who teaches him new things. We always appreciate some help getting through the gate.
from Confessions of a Barren Mother Contemplating Creation
the machines of progress that crank and whine; the whistles that sound, the
pulleys that whir, have a baby and enter the wheel 69 of generations: of Toro and
Tutonia and Peg Perego, cutting the summer drone and grind and thumping of
bureaucratic interventions on the sidewalks of the air filled with 9/11 anxiety
you are sure will wake the peace of innocent slumber.
hijackers and jihadi.
silence of the wheels of history, as if the calm messianic entrance. the wheel
of human reticence is not peace but, by judging things, the capital of procreation.
keep this piece of negligence (you gave me nothing) under wraps. here, take this
law (of love) and shove it. down the street they've birthed the axis of evil, sleep
deprivation so bad that you miss how this paranoid web spreads out into the
future to trip your child.
sleep-deprived hallucinations. in that vast, limitless reproduction of time's quiet
spinning, you barely recognize that love is the science of mitosis: love for child,
cat because she has eyes, too, and nation because we are one. hate is elsewhere.
love because there is always elsewhere. and creates terror.70
69 "oscillates... back and forth" (SY 2:4).
concetta principe briefly conjures a fleeting Marion Engel "Bear" vibe in the final section of This Real but this comment probably stems from Today's book of poetry's serious fear of bears more than any actual literary description. principe is writing poems that challenge the reader and then reward their diligence.
The end of times happens every single day and concetta principe leaves little fat and no excess for the lazy reader to hang to. The poems in This Real are deliberate and unrelenting in their examinations.
from Theses on the Philosophy of Waiting
after Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams
maybe there was only ever waiting; the waiting of the bear who dreams through
winter; the waiting of a modern woman who lights another cigarette waiting for
the messiah's foot-
fall, sitting in cold damp clothes waiting for the hot coffee to spread through the
body, waiting for the morning light; waiting for the wind outside to stop howling
against the glass, or the rain to stop beating at the dirt; waiting for the smell of
the wet grass to enter, after the rain has stopped; for the smell of burning wood;
for the foot-
fall, waiting for the cigarette to end; waiting for the wood to turn charcoal or the
marshmellow to ignite; for the chapter in the book to get interesting; waiting for
feet to be warmed by the fire; waiting for the fish to be cooked; for hair to dry;
for the foot-
fall, waiting for the wind to change, waiting for dreams to become real; waiting for
tomorrow; waiting for what will never come; waiting for the rain to stop; waiting for
him to arrive, as he had promised, waiting for the sun to rise; waiting for the night
to end; for the foot-
fall. waiting for the dream to end; waiting to be found; waiting for the wait to stop.
in all that waiting, there was someone arriving, a miracle that would repeat deep
into the future, full of light, cascading through solid rock as if matter were immaterial;
as if human life were a cave; as if everything beyond these walls were waiting for
someone to find it; as if waiting, in its passive way, were willing someone to come.
The long-john and thermostat battles continue here at Today's book of poetry as the windchill was a brisk -21 C yesterday morning. And for our morning read This Real being read by those just coming in from the cold was freakishly apt. Still cold enough to be angry, our staff gave This Real a fierce reading and it warmed them up something proper. concetta principe is marking her place in Canadian poetry with another necessary volume.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
concetta principe writes prose poems, creative non-fiction and academic articles. This Real is her fourth book of poetry, and, in being a project on love, is a sequel to Hiroshima: A
Love War Story. She is Assistant Professor of English at Trent University.
This Real is concetta principe's take on the end-times in which we live. Here the poem is prophecy, meditation, urge, and inquiry; a space of thinking on fecundity and the mother, on the tree of life and on catastrophe, on the war on terror, wary of honte's erreur. The splendid pacing of principe's prose-poems lets their reader probe and wander. The tone is not one of bright hope but of persistent dwelling, moored in the dark aura of messianic thought and the radiance of things, in which child and wo/man, mothered and unmothered, walk shadowed by history's perilous and precarious wing.
- Erin Moure
Packed with pain and psychoanalysis, mothers, messiahs, and milk, starvation, sacrifice, shock, and son, concetta principe's This Real presents a maelstrom of dense poetic lines and dark prophetic love. It will haunt you till the end of days.
- Jonathan Ball
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