Review: Amina Cain and Jen Karmin at Myopic Books.

June 22, 2008

This happened Sunday June 1.  


like an underwater anemone or how when someone is in a highly emotional state, a ripe red scene rushes into their face and flushes their cheeks with an interior patina of blood, or a terrifying one drains it, a funnel of blood pours from a face into a scene.  A scene demands your blood.  We move inward we move outward, in beating, undulating rolls.  We wave our feelers in a translucent fiber of water, where we can’t quite see, but we can make things out.  It was hot in myopic. 


Amina’s sentences are short.  They have the rhythm of a thought aligning with a heart beat.  Her stories can somehow be made up of questions without asking them.   They take place somewhere between the earth’s crust and the soul’s molten interior.  What do I remember.  That in Amina’s story, “Attached to a Self” there is a small library at the Zen center, where when two people read together it feels intimate, and here Amina is reading to me about one person reading, about two people reading, about three people reading.  And everyone is listening to a nebula of the unpronounceable, visible through the texture of her prose, in the way that a bride’s face is visible through her veil.  And two women drinking tea in “I Sew my Prey”, and their dialogue narrates that moment when the veil is lifted so that the face is hidden and also revealed.  She writes what we’re thinking.  They are truths we have forgotten how to say.  And so it lingers there like the density of air through which sound travels, the muscle movements in our eyes as a text makes worlds.  The dependence a self has upon another in order to make itself is undone, exposed, like the naked core of the globe you can just see through the grass.  Amina got in some grass (“Theater of Sincerity” with Justin Audia).  I was glad about that. 


Then Jen.  A whirlwind of activity surrounds Jen.  She’s like the junction of the two sticks in a god’s eye.  She’s always tying together voices—no small wonder a fabric emerges.  In her piece, “aaaaaaaaaaalice” (11 a’s), three people read simultaneously from three different texts.  The three readers improvise the timing of their texts like a conversation, or the dynamics of the creation of culture. Two of the three readers (Jen and Kath Duffy) stay the same, while the other role cycles through 6 readers (Amina Cain, Tim Yu, Evan Willner, Ed Roberson, David Emanuel, Kathleen Rooney).  That’s one reader per each Canto of aaaaaaaaaaalice.  There are 11 Cantos in total, 6 of which were performed at Myopic.  Later Jen and I were standing outside of the Handlebar: me, her, and the roster of poets.  I asked her if she had somehow intended the three readers to speak different languages like: interiority, the others, and public signage, for example.  No, she said, but each speaker is reading from a different source: me from my journal of my travels through Asia, Kath Duffy from Alice in Wonderland, and the others from a Japanese text book.  There was a commingling of different kinds of light, the lamps, the moon, the headlights of the passing cars, the dim candescence from inside the restaurant.  She told me that someday she’s going to be an old lady poet, and I heard her wise luminescence humming through the veil of her face, her poems growing on a slow, geological clock beat.  Able to swap between the inside and the outside of things as though the barrier doesn’t exist.  


Listen to an audio recording of aaaaaaaaaaalice, and learn more about Jen Karmin’s work at: Amina Cain’s book of short stories, “I Go To Some Hollow” is forthcoming from Les Figues Press in January 2009.  

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