Monday, May 6, 2013

Deborah Poe’s above/ground press chapbook, Keep, is reviewed in Broken Pencil #59

Scott Bryson was good enough to review Deborah Poe’s chapbook Keep (above/ground press, 2012) in Broken Pencil #59. Thanks, Scott! Copies of Keep are still available, here.

Twice in this collection, Deborah Poe finds herself in conversation with Zen Master Dogon (1200-1253). It’s a fitting backdrop for Keep – a set of poems that reads like a meditation.
            Poe’s focus is on the brain, mind, memory and the senses – how they’re intertwined, how they’re different, and how much of their nature is reducible to tangible measurements. She divides dreams into “memory units.” She condenses the act of keeping a memory to “scattered thunderstorms” of frontal lobe filters in a “sky mind,” where the retrieval of memories depends on efficient vs. inefficient memory components. She pulls back the curtain on sensations to reveal the frontal cortex analyzing sensory inputs and the brain filling in gaps: “beings bridge the distance between bodies and tree.”
            This has all been done before, of course, but Poe manages the balancing act between science and mystery with a deft hand, leaning – suspiciously too far, it seems – towards science holding the winning hand. Her insistence leaves you feeling like she purposefully pushed too hard in one direction, in order to trick you into going the other.
            Anyone who enjoyed Jon Paul Fiorentino’s collection of pharmaceutical verse, Hello Serotonin, will find something in Keep.

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