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Friday, June 27, 2008

because why (Coffee House) by Sarah Fox

In because why Sarah Fox engages poetry on a number of levels. One is structural and formal. Simply comparing the look of just about any two randomly selected pages will display what I am getting at: she experiments with both lineation and space.

On a second level, she explores an associative surrealism that seems light on its feet, unlike classic surrrealism which claimed to unearth deep psychology. Could Sarah Fox be turning into art the sound bytes and advertising rhetoric that permeate our linguistic and visual space? Could she be finding the possibilities for art in what would seem to be a dreadful situation? Note these two playful lines: "I have tipped the cloud for his courtesy," and "offer it up / to the goats," not "the gods." (emphasis mine)

The final level of her engagement with poetry involves her unexpected narrative and syntactical hinges.

     There was a boy who blew up
     trains. You read about him,
     he's so notorious and uncaught
     with his quarters, his invisible shoelaces.
     One day you find yourself
     on a train with the boy
     who blows up trains.
Later, it turns out that the boy is the speaker's lover. The narrative in this poem consistently hints at some sort of linear resolution, only to suddenly scurry off into an entirely new dimension. The narrative turns on the least expected hinges into the least expected vistas.
     A human being outlined
     on the page, chalk outline,
     dead person, alone is.
The syntax of this sentence forces "outline" to be repeated and reverses the typical place of the verb with the adjective it is attached to. What is the difference between "alone is" and "is alone"? As it is written, we end the sentence expecting more, because sentences this long rarely end with "is." But we get nothing: this causes a jolt of discomfort, which accompanies the word "alone," making it that more potent.

Sarah Fox's wit, technical expertise, and inventiveness make because why a compelling read.

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