Thursday, June 16, 2016

Greg Bem reviews Sarah Mangold's A Copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert (2016)

Greg Bem reviews four Sarah Mangold titles, including her A Copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert (above/ground press, 2016), a chapbook still very much available, over at Queen Mob's Teahouse. Thanks so much! This is the first review of Mangold's latest, and you can see his full review here.
Within the chapbook in front of you is a realm of logic. This realm provides ifs and subsequently thens. There are statements. There are truths. This sturdy poetics may appear as sturdy poetics, as straightforward, but Mangold’s image craft here is potent and affects bluntness elementally. The image, then, is additive and though the truth and the beauty within often reach excessive heights, an apparently intentional concentration on image is hardly decorative. Mangold’s utilization of the image is a space to channel feeling. Pools of emotions. Laborious. The laboratory. The nearly alchemical in a very subtle but very harmonious (a la sober meets drunk, to use an analogy the book inspired within me as the reader) experimental process of discovery and offerings.
Makes us feel weight of mountains/ / Float of a cloud/ (3)
This is not the medieval experimentation of dragon’s breath and spider’s silk. Mangold provides in this chapbook the hallucinogenic expression of the pastoral. A 21st century nod to a transcendental escape of exploration: clouds and mountains reoccurring. The imagery a phantasmagoria, a sequence of sets of spaces and descriptions. And that which can be seen: how do we see it? Less tension and more conjoining, more bridge, is present in the metalogic Mangold uses as fixative, as binding agent, as lubricant for her condensed collection of works: “There is in it no place for / individuality     Prevalent emotion    progressive tints    horizon” (4).

As a supplement to the grand and the total that can be seen in her other works, this book has its place as an incision, as a compass, as a guide. It offers insights into how Mangold’s work as a poet is combinatory, serialized. Writing as ethereal and whispering as Robin Blaser, to use an example poet whose tones find their own mirrors here, in ways, sets itself out in front of the reader and is gentle, meditative, open to be found, open to be applied. Mangold has provided us with a treasure here. How much it will glisten in the firelight going forward is yet to be seen, known, understood, acknowledged.

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