Propagation, Kenning Editions, 2012

“A poem is an activity, not a product.” –Henri Meschonnic

Laura Elrick’s Propagation is incantatory, magical, mischievous, devilish. Its syntax is resistant, fluid, impeded; its lineation outwits givens, decommodifies ideas, modulates stances, transforms terms. The poems are moody—sullen, fanciful, sardonic, meditative, funny, mad. Propagation, in other words, invites multiple readings, but not only because one can voice its polyphonic perspective so variously; it does so, above all, because it is enchanting, wondrous. In the myth, Pandora’s box turned out to contain mostly sinister forces and the origins of human woe. Elrick’s Propagation acknowledges the presence of this sad panoply, but what emerges most forcefully from this book is the revolutionary power of hope, not as mere promise but as an articulate practice. –Lyn Hejinian

 

Laura Elrick’s Propagation deploys repetition with a difference to mimic the shifting structures of trauma. However, Elrick, drawing on the rhetoric of art, poetics, media and psychiatry, expands the field. Trauma is here the internalization of normative development, the ways the different, the other, the disturbing—in short, violence—is absorbed and domesticated. Specifically, Elrick’s “affective physics of discourse” explores, at the level of the poetic line, word and syllable, the socio- and psycho-linguistics of the “turn” to affective criticism in recent years (I’m thinking in particular of Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings). As the title of this book suggests, Elrick thinks of our varied but similar discourses as ideologically, if not causally, related, a network of rhetorics that reinforce and augment one another.  –Tyrone Williams          Read more here

Propagation imagines a poetics in corporeal and synaptic listenings, where we find ourselves wondering to what are we obedient? The syllable? The ear? At times in this book, I am still and bodily (an almost watching) but simultaneously I am struck by the movement between what is aural and what is a lurking narrative. And where the brilliance lies is that we begin to recognize our own patterns in Elrick’s.  Within a poetics that interrogates (as sleep patterns) the tension of what we are meant to say and what our bodies permit. There is no feigned fluency here.  But there is pleasure – in listening to Propagation – the language as cochlear strata opening towards a something, that while lacking in certitude, relishes in what is disfluent. You are here. Amassing something in the folds. –Jordan Scott

Selected Reviews

Tyrone Williams, Jacket 2   

Nicholas Grider, HTML Giant

 

Clint Burnham, Lemon Hound 

 

Patrick James Dunagan, New Pages 

 

Jaclyn Lovell, Boog City No. 109

Angela Woodward and Cooper Renner, The Bailer