From Publishers Weekly
The austere second volume from Greenstreet (case sensitive
) picks up on her other career as a photographer. Brief prose poems, spare stanzas and suggestive sequences return to such notions as frame, tint, profile and point of view: We don't know what it means but we do know that the person disappears.// The bridge/ attracts us with its brightness. One page can present Greenstreet as a war photographer, getting horror on film; the next can make her a victim, a dreamer, a wanderer, an examiner of linguistic particles at a very far remove. Abstractions and almost mystical hints imply lessons from Michael Palmer (Dear When-you-stop-you-will-feel,/ Black, the color of space, mourning/ is green for rain) or from Elizabeth Robinson. Greenstreet is nothing if not challenging, electric and crisp. Readers who find the verse and the situations in the fragment-packed first half of the volume fascinating yet hard to assemble may turn to the concluding set of prose poems, each given a date like a diary (6 January): here events and plots mix and dissolve (civil war, childbirth, hiking), but the hurt tone and the laconic technique make them cohere. The book includes a DVD (not seen by PW
) with video art by Greenstreet. (Sept.)
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This is all strangely familiar. To use one of its own images, reading this book is like opening a folding table after closing a door. There are two kinds of hinge, we might say. You feel the grammar in your hands and your shoulders. You begin to see how the table gets you from the eggs to the window. It just stands there. Perhaps this is, as Greenstreet suggests, like a dream you sometimes have. But (and this is the thing) it is also like going for a walk or building some intricate part of a boat. It is not the place of the poet to decide.
A poem is not a place where a decision is made and this is certainly no time to explain yourself. "This is what went on here," Wittgenstein taught us, "Laugh if you can." Greenstreet understands this, and her lines do sometimes make you laugh. But not always. She says, "Do a dangerous thing and you re in danger. That's how it works." She doesn't tell you to live dangerously; she just tells you how it works. Or let me put it another way: she understands why you want to go to the sea but she does not know whether you will go.
The whole issue in these pages is one of arrangement. It is about the idea that things have places, "pages and pages of places," in fact. Greenstreet puts words in these places sometimes. Sometimes not. Is a blank page also an arrangement of words? In what way is a blank page with no marks on it like a human body? Or is it like water? Suppose we had to choose: like a body or like water? Don t just sit there, this book seems to say, let's have a look at where things go.
A poem is made by composition, by putting things together, and when you read this book your hands tingle. The Last 4 Things
brings craftsmanship to reverie; it turns dreaming into meaningful work. It is a serious approach to the grammar of our emotions and you do well to read it with your hands. --Thomas Basbøll