Corrine Fitzpatrick (who reads tonight with Anne Waldman in New York) read a mix of recent work and poems from her new chapbook, On Melody Dispatch, which she forgot to bring copies of, so offered to send for free to anyone who left her an address. Her work stood out for its sound-driven feel for internal rhyme, assonance, and sharp alliterative thrusts that concentrate the listeners’ attention on relatively short but dense verbal units: “no honor in that Bosporus;” “the factions monastic;” “sour as a rhetor;” “make muscle in that brittle dress.”
What she read from the chapbook had me thinking at first of hip-hop with its staccato and heavily end-stopped lines, but the meter seemed to stretch out in places to resemble that other popular (and political) form, the ballad. Many of the poems were responses to the war in Iraq and the sinister economic matrix that feeds it: “listen for glitches in the technocrat control,” warned one poem; another opened with the “pneumatic clatterings of paper factories mid-morning,” which has a great mimetic sound but doesn't induce much pastoral calm.
I read Alice Notley's Coming After recently, and a phrase she uses to talk about O’Hara—“intricate linguistic closework”—came to mind while Fitzpatrick read. It gets at the sense of sounds being especially close-knit or tightly embroidered, but also suggests the work a boxer does when he’s up close in a clinch with his opponent. Fitzpatrick’s writing, in manner and in matter, seemed tight like that to me: somewhere between a cross-stitch and a counterpunch. “Machine of surface luster, come whistle through that door.”
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