I came across Rose’s chapbook when she posted it to my call for new books to read. This was absolutely a blind buy as I had never encountered Rose before, and had never read any of her work.
The title of the work interested me – as most of you know, I’m a seminarian whose focus of study is Biblical Studies/Theology and Social Ethics – and was curious what I would find when I opened the book.
- 8.5 x 11
- 75 pages long
- $12 paperback
- Matte cover, glue binding and cream colored paper.
I’m pasting this directly from the Amazon description: Artistically a self-instructeur, her philosophical studies incessantly contrasting within Metamodernist Formalist poetic dialogues creating fragmented automatic texts evoking Neo-Dadaist, Surrealist, and Futurist aesthetics in imagistic contortionist vortices.
I read through this collection of poetry a few times. I really tried to understand it, to derive meaning from it – but I just couldn’t. The words ran together, jumbling in my head and made no sense to me no matter how slowly I took each poem and thought about each word.
For someone who loves genres like Dirty Realism, Transgressive Fiction, Grit Lit, Meat Poetry and (now!) Pulp this was exceptionally difficult for me.
There were so many times I stopped reading either in exasperation or exhaustion. There were many times I was close to saying “fuck it” and not do the review – just review other books and hope that Rose wouldn’t catch that I didn’t review hers. But that’s a shitty thing to do to an author and a writer – and, let’s be real, it’s both inauthentic and would lack integrity on my part.
What kept me coming back to is is the fact that I know Rose is trying to say something. And I want to know what that something is.
On my final read-through I tried a different approach. Instead of viewing this as a collection of poetry in which words are meant to carry meaning – I approached it as something like an art collection (an audio and visual one).
On the final read-through I spoke the words Rose wrote out loud. About halfway through the book I began recording myself speaking these poems and played them back so that I could listen. The physical sensation of reading them out loud curled my tongue in the most curious of ways which was not unpleasant. Hearing them replayed back to me… I lost the grip of the words. By this I mean that the words weren’t discernable as words anymore, but as sound. Sound which was rich, and complex.
After I finished that final read through, I had to think about what just happened. What’s Rose trying to tell me through this art exhibit? Is it that words, ultimately, mean nothing – that they are just symbols which are transitory and malleable which indicate that they are socially constructed and only mean what we want them to mean at any particular point? Is it that, when words mean nothing, the only meaning we can garner is through sound or movement?
If you read this book as you would a traditional poetry collection – you’re probably going to hate it like I did.
BUT – if you approach this book like an art exhibit and not only ask yourself what the artist is trying to say but also what she’s trying to get you to experience I think that you’ll enjoy it.