EILEEN TABIOS Engages
LEAVING LEAVING BEHIND BEHIND by Inger Wold Lund
(Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn, 2015)
LEAVING LEAVING BEHIND BEHIND contains short vignettes (poems, sure…or flash fictions—the category doesn’t seem as important so we’ll stick with vignettes) that, as hearkened by its title, relate to leavings and what is/are left behind. Each piece begins consistently—to pleasing effect—with a reference to the past, e.g.
Some years ago…
A month ago…
Then ensues consistently evocative narrative, with the best inclined to spur the reader’s imagination to fill in gaps or imagine what’s not stated. For, a lot is not stated. Here’s an example, randomly selected by letting the chapbook fall and seeing what the pages open to:
Yesterday. In an email.
He wrote me that a group of kids had biked past him when he was sitting outside the house where he lived when he himself was a kid. As they passed, one of them turned around and screamed.
I am not with them. I am not with them.
As it turns out, the above example is in the category—I wish to divide the texts into two categories—of what’s effective. It’s effective, I believe, because of an impact much stronger than the text’s brevity, as well as, significantly, an uncertainty. The last sentence is uncertain as to what spurred its articulation and its references (who’s “I” and who’s “them”?). The second paragraph is unclear as to why one of the kids screamed and why the “He” was sitting outside the house he lived in as a kid. But nonetheless the “story” feels whole, although it’s up to the reader to imagine what would complete the tale.
The second category, for me, is what’s not effective. As it turns out, the vignette on the opposite page of the above is something I would put in this category. Here it is:
Some years ago. Outside a studio.
The asphalt was still warm from the sunshine earlier in the day. Inside there was a party.
So you are together now?
But you know that he never stays.
What do you mean?
I mean that he always leaves.
For me, it’s not effective because it says more and yet means less. I suppose it’s successful as a koan but it’s not particularly satisfying as it’s difficult for me, as the reader, to be invested in its tale. There’s nothing for me to add to “he never stays” because “he always leaves.”
So, I would—if I cared to count—categorize each vignette into either of the two categories but ultimately such categorization doesn’t matter. The texts succeed in manifesting the project’s conceptual underpinning and there are enough pleasurable manifestations to have made this reading worthwhile. Moreover, it’s a work that makes me admire the author’s mind—such that I look forward to what else Inger Wold Lund creates in the future. I’ll leave you with a vignette that I much appreciated for its last dissonant sentence that elevated the all of it into something memorable, albeit as a curious itch:
Many years ago. On a ferry.
We drank too much.
I love you.
Answered his father.
Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well). She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work. I FORGOT LIGHT BURNS received a review by Zvi A. Sesling at Boston Area Small Press & Poetry Scene; by Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer Grady Harp over HERE; and by Allen Bramhall in Tributary. Her experimental biography AGAINST MISANTHROPY: A LIFE IN POETRY received a review by Tom Hibbard in The Halo-Halo Review, Allen Bramhall in Mandala Web and Chris Mansel in The Daily Art Source. SUN STIGMATA also received a review by Edric Mesmer at Yellow Field. Recent releases are the e-chap DUENDE IN THE ALLEYS as well as INVENT(ST)ORY which is her second “Selected Poems" project; while her first Selected THE THORN ROSARY was focused on the prose poem form, INVEN(ST)ORY focuses on the list or catalog poem form. A key poem in INVENT(ST)ORY was reviewed by John Bloomberg-Rissman in The Halo-Halo Review, and the book itself was reviewed by Chris Mansel in The Daily Art Source and Allen Bramhall in Mandala Web. More information at http://eileenrtabios.com