Looks like I'm the first one here, so I'll start the conversation on Mercury. I'm just going to be upfront and say that I was not a fan of this book (granted, I'm new to Reines and I have an incredibly low tolerance for affectation, so...). I'm interested in what other people's thoughts are about it, as I am actually finding myself at a little bit of a loss of things to say. This book is pretty blunt; Reines says things straight out here. It's interesting to me that she so often evokes poetry itself - the art or non-art of it. Over and over, these poems call attention to themselves as being poems. Through the conversational style broken up into line breaks instead of the sentences they more sonically evoke. Through the constant talk about poetry and writing. Through the "multi-media" aspect. Part of me finds this somewhat brave, as I am nervous to write about poetry in fear that someone will point to me and ask what right I have to speak of poetry at all. So kudos to Ariana Reines, I guess.
I think this book demands to be talked about by separating each part. So I will just add a few brief comments for each section:
1. Leaves: If this book is in some ways a construction-deconstruction of poetry and the poetry book, then Leaves is definitely the section where Reines shows us a typical poetry book before she tears it down. Titles, reasonable poem sizes, standard line and stanza breaks. I think there's something to be said for the fact that Reines knows how to put a poem together. That being said, I think there's a real dearth of interesting imagery and language here, which is too bad. Question for all of you: Is this deliberate? Is she fucking with our notion of what good poetry is supposed to be?
2. Save the World: I can't seem to get through one of these blog posts without telling a story, so here we go. After my little brother and I anxiously awaited the big-screen adaptation of a graphic novel we both loved, Watchmen, we saw the movie on opening day. It's as terrible as everyone says it is. Afterwards, I went home and wrote a short poem about my hatred for the movie and the audience we saw it with. This poem dropped the f-bomb; it got indignant on the behalf of women everywhere. So imagine my surprise to see that Reines has done the exact same thing here. I wanted to like this section, as I love when strong writers address pop culture in complex and artful ways, but because Reines had nothing to add to the general discussion of this movie, I had a hard time getting into it. I realize that's personal taste and not actual criticism. Sorry; this whole part made me kind of mad. Probably because I had done the exact same thing when I was a dorky undergrad who didn't know any better.
3. When I Looked at Your Cock My Imagination Died: More questions for you guys. Is Reines actually trying to shock us here? Why? Is it working? (Note: I don't think it's shocking nor do I think it's subversive, but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.) Or does she know it's not shocking to contemporary audiences and is trying to subvert our expectations of shock value as well? Is just throwing around the word "cock" a lot make something shocking, or does it actually take all the power out of that word? Is that the point? Oh man, I'm talking in circles, here...
4. Mercury: Probably the best sense of poetry and image in this series, but I mostly skimmed through it. This book suffers from being too long, I think, and by the time I got here and knew I had to finish this thing so I could blog about it, I no longer cared to pay much attention to it.
5. 0: This is probably my favorite section in the book, and I wish it could have been its own self-contained book. I really admire the way Reines takes a speaker, the speaker's mother, and the speaker's daughter (all of whom are constructions and not actual people, I'd argue, despite the pictures that are clearly of Reines herself) and smashes them together. There seems to be one primary speaking voice, and yet in that voice, all these generations seem to exist at once, speaking to - or more likely, through - each other. I'm not totally sure what to make of this section (I might have to reread it a few more times), but I think there's some cool stuff happening about what it means for unhappy women to bring unhappy daughters into the world and the way you have to both cut yourself off from the future and yet cling to it, too. I think this is directly linked to how Reines feels about poetry and her relationship to it - that her poems are the daughters she doesn't want but which she tries to love. And that maybe she fails to love the right way. Again, I wish this had been it's own thing, as I think it needed some space to breathe outside of this large book.
Anyway, those are my non-academic thoughts on Mercury. I apologize for the scattered way this is written. It's the end of the semester and my brain is absolutely fried.