We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
by Jackie Clark
Brooklyn Arts Press, $14.95 (paper)
The poems in Jackie Clark’s powerful, spare, and stealthy debut each take the same wordless title—“( ),” a pair of parentheses not so much empty as framing space for the intangible, for everything unsaid or unnoticed in between the stuff of daily life. These are the poems of an uncomfortable modernity overfull on both noise and boredom and “Ordinary folks doing / ordinary things inside their homes. // When I sleep, the cats sleep. // Each day remains possible because a sense of the rest is lost.” Clark is a quiet poet but not a retiring one. She watches from the storm’s eye, uncovering what is threatening and contagious about our existence. “Something really awful could happen at any moment,” she warns. These poems, so reflective of our contemporary exhaustion, are executed with impressive precision. But Aphoria isn’t all caution against the hollow and the hamster wheel; these are often weary, tender love poems, persevering despite the danger of the world and the disconnection and despair we sometimes feel. Clark writes: “the routine of posture, / routine of sweat, / this urgency escapes me, / I try to tell it how pleased I am to be right here, / to have seen the Polaroid, / one part memory house, / one part sweater.” Clark’s is a voice that refuses to join in the madness or be drowned out by it, and the beauty that results is a pleasure to read.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
In her new book, Danish poet Olga Ravn writes with open love, pity, and compassion for her strange yet familiar creations.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.