CUTBANK REVIEWS: Half of What They Carried Flew Away, by Andrea Rexilius

Half of What They Carried Flew Awayby Andrea Rexilius Letter Machine Editions, 2012

Review by Timothy C. Dyke

Is it a conceptual event? Is it a document of performance itself? How might the degree of transparency map this object? In Andrea Rexilius’s latest book these lines are not printed in italics, so I change a line by drawing attention to the line. I might be able to think of ways that language, by definition, is a capturing, a simultaneous failure to capture. What is the sculptural fragment that is revealed by this city? To make the poem a place is not exactly the same as to make a poem of place. To make the work a body is not exactly the same as to make a body of work. I am reading through the book again. Sometimes it feels like work, and sometimes it feels like fun. It is fun work. I should probably say something about genre. I should probably say something about narrative. I should probably say something about linebreaking. I should probably say something about essay. I should probably say less about how I am feeling. I am tilting against the windmills. I establish a continuity. I cannot pin down one side of the territory. I am an open mouth and a factory. I am yellow, or red. I was asked if I am myself. I am myself. I should probably say something about pronouns. Their name is William. They are born a little girl. To review the book is, what? To narrate the experience of reading the book? What if the book doesn’t defy narration as much as it ignores narration? Pronouns and time and place and image, and then there’s experience, and theirs becomes memory. There is never a story as soon as they say there’s a story. What if the book ignores narration as a way of questioning narration as a way of acknowledging narration? Half of what they carried flew away, and what I am left with is some space between the thing and the description of the thing. Right? I am sounding pretentious again. My understanding is not convoluted. I am talking about myself again. I do not know the limits of my own distinction. Human space is a cohabitation with fog. I am skipping over some really good stuff about Christopher Columbus. There is this one reference to incest. An actor friend asked me what this book was about. He was wearing old man makeup. I said her book was about words and different kinds of nature and history and time, and then I thought to myself that all good books are kind of about those things, and I said, “you just have to read it.” I read him the line about igniting the cloud. You and I are in a relationship. To organize the language, the poet divides the book into five residences: Desire, Water, Emanation, Weather and Territory. We are glistening with what it evokes. I forget which pronoun she uses for the glacier. There is that reference to God and the cutting of photographs. A long, white tongue to read the parchment. There is much I can’t say about trauma and loss. It is the result of deep amnesia

--- Andrea Rexilius completed her Ph.D. in Literature and Writing at the University of Denver. She is the author of To Be Human Is To Be A Conversation (Rescue Press, 2011) and Half Of What They Carried Flew Away (Letter Machine Editions, 2011). She is currently the co-editor of Marcel Press.

Timothy C. Dyke has published fiction in Santa Monica Review, Kugelmass, Drunken Boat and Spork. In 2011 he was a semi-finalist for the Sentence Book Award. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii with parrots.