Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carrie Hunter and the Windshield Wipers

Lara Durback responds to Carrie Hunter's The Incompossible

"The binary competes with multiplicity." Carrie Hunter writes this in "Crystal Sewage," one of the blocky floating poem-paragraphs that is a page in her new collection, The Incompossible. Carrie puts forth so many binaries (or what ever name you want to call these back-and-forth things in a mind) that readers are forced to see all that's in between these stark binaries (or, as I wrote in my notebook, "binary as displacement, replacement, one thing possibly substituted for the other). "When our un-thingness becomes thingness, what about the rest of us?" ("Our Daylight Truth") When binaries don't work, we're still here with our binaries.

Like me, Carrie yearns for graph paper, or at least I am projecting that she has a graph paper fetish like me. Wait, she actually does say it, "A desire for graph paper." ("Ontology") She also mentions "power grid of the known." ("Our Daylight Truth") I think the yearning for the grid is about wanting to draw around the grid, wanting to write diagonally on the grid, write all over and take apart the grid. Wanting to think about how to get around the grid, this "real" predisposed, measured, mapped plan of living. Carrie Hunter: I don't know her that well, but when I met her at the release party forThere Journal at Loretta Clodfelter's house (a year ago?) I felt an affinity with her. It was a cozy and supportive gathering. I also know I had seen her around poetry-land, and we had never talked, and I wondered what that was, why is it so terrifying to talk at readings? Maybe we would have talked someday anyway? But it's always so much easier to just talk to the familiar people in public that might smile back at you, isn't it?

While reading, my first instinct was that The Incompossible was about the pain of interaction in some way, how it often should be so easy, but it really is not. The first inclination I had about each of Carrie's paragraph poems is that each of them contains some combination of wants, hurts, and that which is said in public. It does feel incompossible to talk at a poetry event during breaks and mingling sometimes, when you have so many things to say, and writing work you have been consumed with, and residue you are carrying around from whatever is going on in your life, and you are standing there, mouth hanging open, trying to convey wishes/wants/needs, trying not to be hurt, and just trying to notice and take in the room and the air and the weather. "What is influenced that is outside of the sphere of influence's sphere of influence." ("Contour") How familiar that feels! How many times have I felt that disconnect of people gauging people depending on influences, especially with in a writing/art community. This is considered, never solved.

Carrie Hunter is there, exploring these spaces of interaction clouded by thought, (or thought clouded by interaction). Yes I will just say this assertively. And she is doing it in these manageable short paragraphs. And she is doing it with sentences. I always find sentences comforting, as opposed to lowercase words floating in a lot of page space. Carrie puts so much heavy stuff in these sentences that they better not float too much. Hey, I just wrote they are floating at the top of the page in the first paragraph. Well, they are floating AND not floating. 

Oh, I also jotted down, "Everything is foggy and that means today is not today." ( From "[anniversary]," an especially heavy poem that drops to the bottom of a page, as only a handful of the poems in the total book will do.) There is a lot of saying of what is or is not. But in the context of being outside, in the city walking around ("The pigeons walk single file." "Whether there are men masturbating in the street we must walk around." "Barbershop poles will not tell me anything [new].") there is all this huge consideration of dualities, of what has been said or not said, separate but one, like a mind that is huge with thought while a body walks on a very concrete street. Forgive me Carrie, I am skipping around so much to different poems, but all of the text resembles parts of one big whole, so I feel welcome to do it. 

"Reduced to what you are trying to outgrow" ("Once the Dualities Destroy One Another"), yes, I become more convinced this is about knowing oneself as a theorizer, a critic, a poet, an artist, this is the long view of what is going on with the mind. The poem "Once the Dualities Destroy One Another" is one of the keys to this book. The dialectics, the dichotomies, the binaries, the paradoxes within the space of a sentence are told and retold in so many ways. (I ponder off about singular terms for such a long time that it stunts my conversation ability, has led to others calling me obtuse at times, or just making awful faces of disgust or misunderstanding, faces I'm sure I am making myself back at them, while I try to understand.) Carrie also explains this flip-flopping of the mind elsewhere in the poems as an object doing that sort of movement. "The windshield wipers are broken." ("Plenum") "String pulled too taut, becomes two convictions, and must be thrown away." ("Once the Dualities Destroy One Another")

And, yes, I have to go there, but Carrie drops in /"THE/OWLS/ARE/NOT/WHAT/THEY/SEEM/," which could only be a reference to Twin Peaks. David Lynch and Mark Frost who wrote the screenplay for Twin Peaks have the most brilliant systems of symbols going on in that old show, functioning in a very similar way to what Carrie is doing. (I found an antiquated website nerdily breaking down all the Twin Peaks symbols, and I never returned to the site, but I never forgot it either.) Carrie's windshield wipers remind me of the circular fan image that is constantly shown in Twin Peaks, the circular fan is relating to cycles of abuse that happen, especially toward women (the same actress killed again through another character). There is the repeating fan image especially in Laura Palmer's house. (I could go on with the Twin Peaks symbols but I will spare you too much...There are also things like sunglasses that come up when someone is hiding pain of loss or abuse with some sort of toughness. Or the constant image of grinding of the logs, also a circular image, a circular saw, that refers to the big city or big industry encroaching on the small town, and I would arguably say, on women, who are also viewed as a sort of industry themselves.)
Carrie's windshield wipers are not limited to women's minds during an interaction or assertion of thought, but I think that many of the poems do point to a woman's experience of speaking in public or walking in public. But this is something anyone can find access to, a human experience of pinning down the mind that jumps back and forth to different decisions or judgments. Or between left and right brain.

I have not read the other reviews of this book on the Black Radish blog yet (I didn't want to be influenced), and it will be exciting to see what others have said about Carrie's work. It is so exciting to see it in its entirety. It is always scary to respond singly and directly to poetry as I wonder if I am capable of listening at the time I am reading/writing, with all the filters and anxieties that could hinder me from addressing the work, i.e., the words on the page, and not the thing my mind was already working on. I want to honor Carrie's awesome body of work.

The Incompossible is available at SPD.

Lara Durback is a notebook writer, using handwriting primarily, and that means walking around and writing. Public transportation is a big part of that city writing. Work without handwriting forthcoming in Mrs. Maybe. Also look for her editing work on Deep She is also a letterpress printer because she likes machines. She has recently finished making/printing the book Garbage Research 1: Hoarders and Those Resembling Hoarders for Dusie Kollectiv 5 with the collage artist Greg Turner. She taught a class about printing on found items at Naropa University's Summer Writing Program. Her NoNo Press will be a featured artist in the forthcoming Artist's Book Yearbook, though she does not identify as a book artist. Writer is enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment