Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Michael Lake reviews Roland Prevost’s Parapagus (2012) in Broken Pencil #69

Michael Lake reviews Roland Prevost’s Parapagus (2012) in Broken Pencil #69. Thanks so much! This is actually the first review of Prevost’s second last above/ground press chap (this one has appeared since).

“A backfield dig unearths two gleaming pre-human / Skulls.”
            So begins Roland Prevost’s suite of short poems about an encounter between some archaeologists and the remains of an ancient two-headed woman, the parapagus of the title. The woman’s story emerges delicately through meditations on the life of her anomalous body: “Female adult remains. Survival to maturity / Suggests an acceptance of strangeness.” We catch glimpses of her sex life and the struggle between her two selves, but rather than focus much on the particular deviances of this body, Prevost plays with notions of otherness, exploring how and why it is perpetuated: “Assorted reactions of gawkers, reverencers. / A notoriety: across families, tribes. Across to us, / Three species down evolution’s stream.”
            The perception of otherness goes both ways as Prevost imagines what the two-headed woman would think of us: “They wouldn’t recognize us as kin.” All of this unfolds succinctly in ten swift poems, the titles of which are, at first, frustratingly oblique – [ magical beliefs ] + { meats rendered } or [ passive aggressive ] + { bound } are two such title examples—but upon a second read, they become helpful thematic markers, like an archaeological site, if you will. Parapagus is a short read, but one that will reward an attentive audience.

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