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ORANGES IN JANUARY (Knives Forks and Spoons Press, UK, 2016)

Oranges in January (front) 2

“To read the poetry of Pansy Maurer-Alvarez is to be in the cool presence of a guide to the interior life, to be in a space akin to an art gallery or a library, places dedicated to the art of living.  This is a work that manages the difficult feat of being intelligent, intimate and graceful by simply putting every word in its rightful place.  It is a gorgeous collection.”      Joseph Horgan

“oh, if all oranges tasted like the poems of Pansy Maurer-Alvarez.  try them. they’re juicy.  their phrases will bounce through your body & fill you with energy.  in her new collection Pansy once again renews herself.  & in the process she flings open a window in your head.  now, come along for the ride.”      Lars Palm

 

You can read sample poems as well as reviews here:

http://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/orangesinjanuary.html

 

 

 IN A FORM OF SUSPENSION   (corrupt press, Paris, 2014)

In_a_form_of_Suspension_front_small

“These poems inhabit a space of wild observation, offering moments of fused-grammar joy (“mimosa is composed of Seville”), but grounded by a delight in physicality. … Joy, social detail, a love for language, an urban wit, all combine in this book…”      Edmund Berrigan

“Feminine, incisive, capricious, and analytical, the poems move the reader with their throbbing pulsations, and cool lacunas. … the “bare literary figurine” becomes a mature woman reflecting on her life, on sexuality, on presence, and the immense potential of language to liberate and redefine the human spirit.”   Andrea Moorhead

http://corruptpress.net/books/suspension.shtml

 

Mandy Pannett’s review of IN A FORM OF SUSPENSION for TEARS IN THE FENCE:

I have been trying to find one word that will sum up the essence of this collection. ‘Sumptuous’ is a strong contender for these poems are certainly that – passionate, sensuous, overflowing with the richness of language. But I need the word ‘instinctive’ as well for these are pieces that defy logic and the linear and go straight to the emotions, bypassing the entanglement of brain cells that would pin down and overlay clear-cut meanings on such devious things as words.

So how is a reviewer to discuss the skill and beauty of these poems in a way that will lead to this different way of understanding? The author herself has written about her thoughts on the language of poetry and said:

‘I feel, basically speaking, that poetry is first and foremost music. Music enters the body through the ear and goes directly to the soul; because words have dictionary meanings and language has grammar, poetry enters the body through the ear and often gets lost running around in circles in the brain. I wanted to skip that kind of understanding process and use language in such a way that these poems would be immediately felt and therefore understood. I’m counting on the fact that the brain automatically, instinctively, makes associations without one having to ‘think and this results in a different but no less valid understanding/ feeling of the poem.’

So poetry in this collection is music and magic lies in the power of associations which, Ariel like, touch feelings not thoughts and which will be unique for every person. ‘In a Form of Suspension’ is rich in such elusive connections. Take, for example, these lines from ‘Moody Stunning Looks’:

 

‘Elsewhere

the industrial landscape of Iceland

is encrusted with full-throated flyovers, oil refineries

wedding trumpets and tiny lights that swab

a promise   what looks like a

tinge’

 

or this from ‘Unmistakeable’:

 

‘a textural thicket;

shell, bone, feather, bare chest, hair pigment

 

flared out reflections, lizards and chalk, cranes

native of Flanders, a bellyful wielding …

 

and part is clenched in accordion folds

opening over the linear lowlands of agitated sea fowl.’

 

No need to search for literal meaning here. The associations each individual brings to the lines is enough.

‘In a Form of Suspension’ provides the listener/reader with a wealth of sound. Words are ‘urgent’, sometimes shouting, sometimes ‘barely above a whisper’. One is ‘an outsider/taut and incandescent, sucking words out of speeches’, events are ‘slippery in a swell swoon’. (‘Perception’)

In ‘Burnt-Orange Saraband’ we have a mention of the stellar women in ‘O sorrowful Spain’ who ‘leap past and brush the husband/they capture and penetrate the sweet hot lull of my paradox/somewhere a thrashing rainfall becomes a superb blue’. Every poem in this book is a ‘textural thicket’ where ‘This slow orange slack unfurls a rococo sway; it makes me feel/feathered and plushed/ …the way blame is exempt from moiré/and the ample illusion is soft, onset/pertaining to poise’. (‘The Beaded Edge’)

Pansy Maurer-Alvarez is the absolute master of the poetic line. This is where her skill and love of language are supreme. We have poems of long lines, short lines, text in blocks, text indented, poems of single lines throughout, prose poems, imaginative uses of white space, varying stanzas, lines that are incomplete, suspended as if in air – poems that are a joy to look at as well as to read. Best of all on every page we are treated to her control, her deft handling of the musical rest, the pause, the perfect line ending:

 

‘Flux occurs and

accountable conditions begin to negotiate the sweet older tension of a glimpse

just standing there’ (‘A Faint Whim Within Remarkable Humility’)

 

There is much more to delve into. These are poems with a strong narrative voice, erotic, physical, imagist, musical and vigorous. Even the titles seem to leap off the page: ‘Rapture Stripped of Confetti’, ‘He Comes Weeping and Mattering’, ‘Reflections Upon An Agitated Hello’, ‘By the Fountain Where Sphinxes Spit Water’.

I began this review by saying these are poems that refuse to be pinned down. They still won’t – but they are equally hard to put down. Immerse yourself in them and enjoy.

 

 

ANT-SMALL AND AMOROUS (corrupt press, Paris, 2012)

English/French bi-lingual edition, with translations by Anne Talvaz.

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http://www.corruptpress.net/books/ant.shtml

 

 

WHEN THE BODY SAYS IT’S LEAVING Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, 2004)

Body

Harvey Shapiro says, “Pansy Maurer-Alvarez is beautifully tuned in to her self and it’s an interesting self, able to translate all the seen and unseen promptings of the day into colorful, sometimes surreal, imagery and musical lines, making this a rich book, a book of hours for those lucky enough to obtain it.”

Elinor Nauen writes, “I deeply admire the intelligent and passionate poetry of Pansy Maurer-Alvarez, with her ‘courage that looks so light and slightly laughy.’ … Perhaps paradoxically, as a poet she is both distant and painfully close, chilly and burning, ‘covered thinly with cold.’  In a quiet way, her poems even have the ability to make ordinary words strange… This is a wonderful book that will change the reader to the bone.”

“These poems … prowl language and various kinds of joy. Prowl with Maurer-Alvarez’s delighting collection.” Kimiko Hahn

“…she’s envisioning the World in her poetry and not just the backyard scene…” Gary Metras

See one poem, “Bog Myrtle V,” on the Academy of American Poets’ site here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16725

 

 

DOLORES:  THE ALPINE YEARS (Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, 1996)

Dolores

 

Alice Notley writes, “A jewel box of contrasting sensibility: diamond necklaces and rhinestone poodle scatter pins, emerald drops and public hair brooches. Stretching from Pennsylvania to Zurich and back and out, this fictional sequence of poems is humorous, linguistically sensual, smart and down-home.  Our heroine, an adventurous dental hygienist, thinks whatever she pleases, in poems differently shaped from each other and registered by a precise musical ear.  A real pleasure.”

Sherman Alexie says, “There is a woman in these poems who loves maps.  She knows about all of the best places and how to get to them whether by train, plane, boat, or turnpike.  She is a humorous traveler whose ‘legs look kind of nice in the dark.’  After you read these poems, you’ll know that Dolores is out there somewhere and you’ll want to join her.”

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