Jack Kimball, who first introduced me to the work of Kimberly Lyons back in 2004, has noted that "Lyons uses poetry...to make great things appear and impossibly new and nearly unsayable things," and he used WH Auden's image of "swaying out on the ultimate wind-whipped cornice that overhangs the unabiding void" as a way of explaining the directness with which Lyons' poetry concretizes this furtive antimimetic mimesis of sensual experience. Lyons' newest work "Restorative Analects" continues that set of concerns in a more intense and stripped-down mode. Having let her trademark similes fall by the wayside, she turns her attention here to the spooky multivalence that verbs can evoke. Lyons' word magic in "Restorative Analects" alternately evokes a to-do list, a series of instructions, a recipe for a dish, the preparations for a spell underway, and the sensual record of one's experiences. Lyons understands that these all come from a similar place, rooted in the verb's appeal to the reader. She creates a tension in which ordering is beseeching, in which description can be the act of being inscribed, and vice versa. For this to succeed, we have to understand it as not just mechanical--it's a tenuous negotiation, a process of trying out that is flushed with deep, conflicted hues of affect. It shimmers, sometimes disturbingly, among impossible locations attemptable only in language. Lyons' analects create a glimpse of something new and then furtively slip away, as formulations which might be images or handholds for locating oneself become distorted while reaching across line breaks. And as always, her playfulness is threaded through moments of portentiousness and generosity. Please welcome Kimberly Lyons to the EOAGH Reading Series.
QUIPS & CRANKS is a new series I'm curating with Vincent Katz over at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. There's more information at the series website here. TENDENCIES: Poetics & Practice continues at CUNY Graduate Center this fall, too; more on that in a moment.