Join the conversation
Subscribe to Our Emails
Boston Review is a public space for the discussion of ideas and culture. Sign up for our newsletters and don’t miss a thing.
Mouths, metaphor, and metonymy.
Copper Canyon Press, $15 (paper)
Many artists are remembered for a distinct organ of perception: Bataille’s eye, Van Gogh’s ear, Escher’s hands. In lyric production, this privilege usually goes to situational contexts, not the scattered Orphic body or the site of utterance itself—the mouth. But quiet insistence on the bruised, wounded site of speech is a live theme in King Me. “And What If This Is an Imaginary City?” observes “a small yellow bird . . . . Then a mistimed sunrise . . . . Then the old word, collapse, . . . Then, hard fruit for which no mouth will complain.” In “Close Your Eyes,” we find, “My mouth, uncollected and silent as rope.” The body’s transubstantiation into panis angelicus for the other (today metaphorized as the cannibalism and the parasitism of capital), metaphors that recall George Herbert’s “The Altar” and Emily Dickinson’s “Deprived of Other Banquet,” are subtexts. Metaphor and metonymy collapse in declarations of the “coconut” and “cockerel” as one, injunctions salvific as the biblical Song of Solomon or the Vedic and Gnostic hymns. King Me offers incantations rife with longing, longing to be fed as well as crowned a winner in the game of life by bestowing, and being given, a name: “When has a god ever sent bread / That hasn’t required a bit of breaking, a fig crushed, / A body made to sing even as it is shattered?”
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox
Readers Also Liked
Printing Note: For best printing results try turning on any options your web browser's print dialog makes available for printing backgrounds and background graphics.