EILEEN TABIOS Engages
COMPOS(T) MENTIS by Aaron Apps
(BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2012)
Events this year highlighted the problematics of mere imagination for writing (persona) poems. (If you don’t know or can’t figure out what I’m talking about, let me not end your “ignorance is bliss” status.) What’s interesting is that Aaron Apps’ 2012 (and debut) poetry collection, COMPOS(T) MENTIS, may be said to have hearkened this problematics—except that I know “hearkened” is not right in that these problems have long been unfolding: the author has never been dead so why would peeps ignore the role of the body? And that there are different types of bodies, and certain bodies have histories and conditions specific to them…?
The tactile, geometric surface of our economic world-failure has become unavoidable and implicit in every action that is blind to it. The world-failure is the amniotic fluid in which noise-bodies float. Yet, even in the unavoidable “realism” (the implicitly accepted truth) of the abstract post-industrial wet dream there are democratic bodies that can infect from within, as destabilized tumors, moles and non-functional limbs within the bodies the bodies of the modes and non-functional limbs within the bodies of the world. The flaccid, slick organs are co-helpless as they hawk up a wad, load, spunk, or splooge—a sea of weak, reforming subjectivities in folding loam. These organ-cocks still glean their sustenance form the cyborg system and its giant chronological movement, but they fail to partake of the same degree in its destructive force. It is a sad, vicious suffering that rips apart viscuous little bodies that soil in its force, that bile to its ruptured organs.
—from “first note”
Apps’ book is not designed for safe reading, specifically because the body, rather bodies, are integrated into the reading. There are texts like
Walls grow claws and hind
Legs from vestigial bone
Ideas of history turning
Forward into bloody gums
—from “THE FLESHSCAPE FILLS WAILS”
as well as
/ or sense and the round tongue flicking soft
On the revolving spine as a spoke that spins from the throat
Sack coughs as the hole coughs thorugh the rim
As the precedent roots
But there also are images like
whose caption includes the words “tongue and ass.” Other captions feature the words “earhole,” “penis tip” and “various flesh folds” even as the images are not clearly figurative—which only makes the result more powerful as Apps shows there is not escape or respite or rest in abstraction because existence entails bodies and bodies, oh yes, are messy.
There are varied ways to glean significance from Apps’ project—as different as each reader’s subjectivity. My reading today (which no doubt will be different on another day) simply reflects certain events this year. But this is just to say of this book that was released three years ago: it remains relevant. And it’s likely to remain relevant for as long as bodies matter. I guess that’s immortality we are talking about, even if it can be depressing—kudos to Apps for his vision generates words like these; I don’t enjoy reading it, but I respect and admire the power:
Although, surely, the attempt is always a failure. The attempt in the necessary, writhing field of the body-politic. The poem a attack on the self, an attempt to make the self a part of the wider body. The tucking of the self back into its own hole. A fissure. A failure.
—from “fifteenth note”
Humans: we deserve to be disturbed.
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