Thursday, June 28, 2007

Noah Eli Gordon on Alli Warren's Cousins

"Poetry peppered with sly, askance humor often makes one want to sneeze, which is to say trivializing itself by allowing what amounts to elbow-jab after joke to resonate more strongly than the confluence of delivery, content and context which originally formed it. What makes Alli Warren's Cousins (Lame House Press) so oddly endearing is its purposeful deployment of numerous, awkwardly-timed, elbow-jabs; here, one finds a joke-free, intelligent humor in lexical contortions and mashups, in the deft and unexpected vacillation from one mode of speech to another, often within a single phrase. Warren displays a serious commitment to delineating the multifarious registers of communication that collide into what we think of as culture. Moreover, her work exemplifies the way in which constructing an authentic self might be nothing more than an admission of one's inability to do so: "I attempted to write a manifesto / and it blew up in my faces." Smart, fun, and eminently readable, the work here is linked via a continual deepening of content, where an image or phrase from one poem becomes the impetus for a revisionary expansion in the following."

Noah Eli Gordon, Rain Taxi Vol. 12 No. 2, Summer 2007

Copies of the second printing of Alli Warren's Cousins are still available for purchase here.

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