Review by Madeleine Corley
I have been a fan of redacted poetry since I rediscovered the craft three years ago. In fact, erasure is what led me to feel thatI could branch my skillset into different types of poetry. Erasure as a form allows a person to create art in a confined space. Whether from a list of words from a source, a single page, or lines taken directly from the work, erasure fosters a creative tension that is similar to strict forms in poetry without the searching for vocabulary – it has already been provided for you.
Michael Prihoda’s book, Out of the Sky, is a collection of redacted poetry created from Don DeLillo’s Falling Man. Prihoda’s approach to erasure is interesting in its form:his whole book reflects the exact pages in DeLillo’s. Choosing to redact an entire novel is a task in itself due to sheer volume. Additionally, I admire Prihoda for is his separation of the novel and form variance.
He has the book broken up into three parts: Law, Etching, and Ink, respectively.In order to begin, you need rules. In order to continue, you need a plan. And to make an impact, you must write it down. The progression of themes is carried through the poems as well. We see ‘trauma’ in Law, a poem the shows the subject they cannot absolve everyone’s strife, setting rules for the world we are about to encounter. The entrance to Etching is ‘precise medical news,’ telling us “the door was possible, / ash / blood / burnt glass,” – proving something can be created from the laws laid out before. In Ink, we find many poems coming together as stories, as additions of each other, as if they exist to write a story unlike the other sections.
Each part is accompanied with a quote from Daughter’s song, Youth. Using the song as a divider between sections offers a view into Prihoda’s source. Falling Man focuses on the events of September 11 th in New York City and how its characters lives changed from that moment forward. Prihoda incorporates the lyrics with his section titles to act as a primer for the contents a reader will find. I enjoyed this set up because it brought together three bodies of art in the same collection, adding more layers. Even the competing titles – Falling Man and Out of the Sky – can communicate similar visuals but demonstrate a different perception of space: one goes with gravity, the other seemingly
against like a phoenix.
Because of Out of the Sky’s length, repetition of form could be an easy crutch to rely on. But Prihoda offers variation in combining poems into multiple parts, structuring pieces on the left side as well as what could be taken from the page, and in paragraph form. Take ‘maintenance’ and ‘ritual,’ two poems in succession. In ‘maintenance,’ we see language staggered across the page, implying this is the position each word lay in the original text. To follow, ‘ritual’ takes to the left margin in stanzas of three lines. This variation drives the reader to keep going, wondering which style of poem they might find next.
From single moments of potency with ‘a mother waiting up for a phone call on the first night’ to multiple veins in the collection’s final hard-hitting poem, ‘out of the sky,’ Prihoda’s collection is one to take in over time with care. These poems offer a reflection on a country’s collective upheaval and discontent as well as the individual self and it couldn’t be coming at a better time.
You can find Michael Prihoda’s book, Out of the Sky, at http://www.hesterglock.net/p-010-michael-prihoda.html through Hesterglock Press in the UK. Their website is hesterglock.com.