Sunday, March 8, 2020

Jessica Thomas-Drake reviews Mary Kasimor's disrobing iris (2019)

Jessica Drake-Thomas was good enough to provide a third review of Mary Kasimor's disrobing iris (2019), after John C. Goodman reviewed it over at Otoliths, and Amanda Earl reviewed such over at her blog.Thanks so much! You can see the original review here. As Drake-Thomas writes:
“you continued dancing for the pleasure of night’s/invisible black silk/with only your hips you showed the mountains/how to dance/in their moon of rock and dust/here in the night/you grow old like a moonstone,” the speaker says in Mary Kasimor’s book of poems, disrobing iris.

The poems in this book have a cool feminist goth-witch vibe that I really appreciated. There were several pieces that I really enjoyed, particularly “dropped stitches.”

In the piece, the speaker says “she knew all the stitches/to close her mouth/stitches to end her life.” This hints at secret feminine knowledge–the woman in the poem knows how to keep quiet. She knows how to play by the rules of a patriarchal society, to do what is expected of her. This, coupled with the fact that sewing was historically considered to be “women’s work” fits together seamlessly (pun intended).

“the stitches blurred/the lines inside herself/she finally spoke,” the speaker says. The action here is important. After this, the poem goes from a very stiff construction, where both the woman and the speaker are holding back. What comes after is a deluge of words.

“she spoke before herself/speaking for her garden/of dying matter/written in her journal/all that dies matters,” the speaker says. The idea that the woman in the poem has this garden that seems to be decaying is an interesting image. I’m trying to picture it, and I’m coming up with a garden of lichen and mold. However, it could also be flowers–they are in a perpetual state of growing then dying. It’s a multi-layered image that could be defined in a few different ways.

“shared memories the orchestra/of stitched culture/the connection of/boundaries the components/of noise/of repression,” the speaker says. This is the heart of this piece–despite all of society’s advances, there is still a patriarchal bent to our society. Women are still repressed. We are encouraged to be quiet and to obey.

Which is why the final line is absolute perfection: “a new language of dropped/ stitches the dress/unraveling the last/body.”

Here, the woman sets herself free through changing the “stitched culture.” She drops stitches, making a dress that is warped, imperfect. She goes against code. This is a lovely piece, with a powerful message. I love it. The line breaks in this piece are absolute perfection, particularly “of dropped/stitches.” Additionally, the lack of capitalization and punctuation is working perfectly.

I really enjoyed this book. The subtle artistry is stunning here. Kasimor’s work is absolute genius. I highly recommend disrobing iris, which is available through above/ground press.

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