A hologram is an illusion. You think you’re looking at something three-dimensional and lifelike, but what you see is only an image, a reconstruction of reality rather than reality itself. What could be a more fitting image to encapsulate the illusoriness, isolation and distance that pervade collective life in this post-truth, post-Covid era—one in which facts are subsumed by beliefs and a screen avatar can stand in for a physical body? In her most recent collection of poems, The Vanguards of Holography, Annie Christain creates a pervasive sense of disconnection and disembodiment.
Love brings death closer. The collapsing space between is the setting of Irene Silt's My Pleasure (Deluge Books, 2022). Silt’s poems occupy the protracted time of wanting and waiting, elaborating the delay between desire and arrival—consummation of love or death. Illuminations strobe over a shadow world where oppositions melt inside one another:
She would make a portrait of her mother shrouded in darkness, holding a clay oil lamp. When Chaya closed her eyes she could see the full image, the jellyfish-like light patterning the space around her mother’s head, her free arm reaching out, as if to Chaya beyond the frame. In her vision, her mother’s hand covered Chaya’s face, blocking any sound from coming out.
Teeter, Alidio's fourth full-length poetry book, marks the apex of a language poet’s work, where making occurs alongside documenting but does not extract from it and in which hearing surrounds language but does not acquire, master, or own it... meandering through or remixing affect and archive, never stagnating or calcifying into that which is mappable.
When my mother was 13, she used to wake up at sunrise every day and carry him on her back to queue for rationed rice. Later, while he and the five siblings would slurp the steamy rice diluted with hot water to fill up the bowls, my mother would fan the charcoal stove with one hand, the other holding down the growling of her belly.
In London, your new apartment has one room, two toasters, and no locks on the doors. Your children’s three little heads knock against one another in a twin bed as they sleep. A tall man with rosacea spits on you at the bus stop. Another grabs his crotch and calls you señorita.
People are complicated, capable of both wisdom and ignorance, care and cruelty. The poems in Togetherness take root in these complexities and entwine the overarching timelines and the small moments of lives lived in close proximity to one another.
With their recent tap to edit Lambda Literary’s Emerge anthology, and timely receipt of the Poetry Project’s Brannan Prize, Fence editor and poet Michael Chang’s influence on this decade has begun. Writer Zachary Issenberg sits down with Chang to talk process and literary inspiration.