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Online Feature: Book Reviews

(Soma)tic and Micro Reviews

Farid Matuk

This Isa Nice Neighborhood

Letter Machine Editions

ISBN-10: 0981522750

ISBN-13: 978-0981522753

160 pages






Micro Review of Farid Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neighborhood

windows smeared in our own dust

if you want to come in here


you’ll have to go through us

from the section: Tallying Song

                                                                        – Farid Matuk

Farid Matuk explores and displays a world and its territories occupied by us – the immigrants, consumers, politicians, beggars, thieves  – the people.

“This is the age of information” he states, and is able to portray this world through numerous allusions of modern day figures, corporations, wars, disasters, literature and anything you can think of. Yet all these allusions are cast into the light of the absurd, the ridiculous sarcasm of the world and her ‘citizens’.

Through odd juxtapositions, like Huck tearing up his letter, refusing to believe… “the niggerfication of Jim” in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, and over the top language, “I only care that you love…testicles like oyster onions floating down the river,” Matuk humorously inhabits serious moments of satire and social commentary.

He embraces the impractical love/hate for celebrities and does not hesitate to use names,  “say it with me – Thank God for Dolly Parton” and a poem titled, But Richard, Will You Show Me an Ethic of Freedom, that begins “Richard Pryor is a criminal / and comes from criminal people.”

The speaker is not merely spilling commentary but often becomes the people portrayed, “I am Moroccan today… the shoes / I will buy will raise me, incline me / as the whole of Europe is inclined…” He distinguishes nations and peoples, “look at our pairs of feet / in the basin, Joe / your European toe / my American slope” while simultaneously acknowledging unity in that we are all people and preposterous, “We all joined the astronaut corps and are waiting in line for the moon.” At once we are disjointed and unified.

(Soma)tic Review of Ferid Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neighborhood

“…there / is no world there is / a world if

you stand at all / you stand against it”

 From the section: Dear Lengthening Day

– Farid Matuk

Prepare yourself for a lengthy travel: a journey full of dust and water and mirrors that don’t quite reflect, or hazy windows that refuse sunlight. Prepare to roam the earth.

First: find a ramp exit you can fly down like a dune that leads into a field or expanse, a far-flung stillness to hurl questions at. While crossing this expanse in search of water, breathe in the field, piss outside to affirm life, write something about spring coming through.

Stumbling upon the banks of a river, plant hydrangeas. Train a monkey to light matches then fling them into the moments, like disturbing little black pools of stagnant water – little sparks of the heart. Line squirrels in trees between the crosshairs of your finger and thumb then fire fire! Consider: “we learn to look at anything and recognize death.” Write something else about spring coming through. “Scrape wood to expose it to the air.”

Continue on in search of tall structures and people. Before you approach, roll around in dust, and then walk into the city. Lie about the things in your pockets. Play with people’s fears of thievery. “Beneath that: a sort of friendship. Beneath that: thievery.” Attempt to piss between dumpsters without being caught.

Come home. Wash your mouth out with soap and water. Read poetry to your dog then kiss her head and smell the spit over hair – “feel her jowl bags work over your hand like a jellyfish.” Be sure to start a pile of your toenail clippings on the coffee table; listen to the whispers of your naked toes. Paint your mother’s chest red to remind you of the red-breasted birds from another country, the places you’ve been. Consider you’ve kissed at least once in your dreams.

Imagine leaving once again. Traveling with your girlfriend. Fucking in the train-car bathroom – a chant of oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck

Realize that someday people will prepare a 9/11 reenactment.

Write something about spring coming through.

Reviewer: Shawn McDaniel is a first year MFA student in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and one of Bombay Gin‘s Audio Archive Editors.

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Online Feature: (Soma)tic and Micro Reviews

Michelle Taransky

Sorry Was in the WoodsOmnidawn Publishing, 2013

ISBN-10: 1890650811

ISBN-13: 978-1890650810

96 pages


Micro Review of Michelle Taransky’s Sorry Was In The Woods

In Michelle Taransky’s book, Sorry Was In The Woods, the audience is taken into the woods with her, where she allows the nature of the trees to speak a new language, one that questions those which destroy it.

The trees in the book breathe their natural beauty, and not the decisions of man to destroy them for security and home.  The bodgers, woodcutters, and cabinet makers are made less in the work, and one can get a sense of new form/realization when entering the woods with Taransky.  She lets the woods speak to her through this piece, “Sorry in the woods where I am looking for a language with a word that means we must see it all differently: the accounting for their symptoms when we are calling it a day using the wage to mark our place as the place that makes crimes build and own shelter out of arguments facing past,” here Taransky cleverly reminds us how we take advantage of the woods that have become our resource for security comfort and home; insisting we have stolen from them. Taransky is realistic in the work using her own memory of household and family, as well as the contextualized historical accounts of bodgers and woodcutters, and how this process by man destroys a natural order in nature for the sake of our comforts.  She then mixes in these actual histories and accounts with her travels into the woods as they whisper their allegory to her, making for new doubled edged meanings in this experimental work.  What Taransky does best in her book is capture the woods in deep contemplation between man’s nature and the nature of the woods without man. In one poem, “A Thought The Same As The Bough,” she writes,

It’s the piece of the tree growing symbolic, if you let them
Expect woodpeckers to be plastic and panicking from
Sorry, the carpenter is not a painter of the forest.

Through the book, Taransky seems fed up with the world destroying the wood, at times saying, “Sorry, I’ve went to the woods,” as though she is done listening to the plans made out by man, and at other times in the woods states she can hear the wood moaning.

(Soma)tic Review of Michelle Taransky’s Sorry Was in the Woods

The Woods Owe You Nothing

In the Seven Woods

We have a machine

We cannot explain

Why watching the event

We making all facts be one fact

To watch parents

Watch their parents

Mount a rebellion


The Surburban Shit House of Smog and Car Pollution smiled across the streets with its invisible, saying it wasn’t as noticeable to the 21st  romantic children of the big building laughter, industrialized in the faces of the glint eyed innocence leaving, who jamming their top rap music of the day laughed in the Sedan over Big Spinners, Diamond ICY Watches, and other false monument & escapism along the way to a standardized idea.  I


had wooden teeth put in, then grinned at you.

This was  an ode to a book in the woods by Michelle Taransky.   An experiment of leaving what we were taught behind and listening to the giving resourcefulness of the woods and Taransky’s thoughts within.

It’s a hell of a forest, the true insides, what one can hear that isn’t industrialized and an attachment of pure nature flourished in front of your eyes.

“You, can’t pry my wooden smile,” I said, “not in this shit hole.”  The City And Things were made out for these new age children, the future who the city controlled in material, and at this early age would be dragged along the strip by their noses into a state of rotten jaded lies .  It shimmers falsely                           across the dying sky.  And so, I’m not apologizing for going to the woods again, just watching this from the hideaway, through the canopy in the trees.

A job that left them with a nice picket fence was all they need.  The one surrounding a small home of orders unordered, where they the inhabitants would soon feel too controlled and want a vacation, or cut themselves, reinvent, or go to drunk, sex, loathing, prescript…

The woods talk a bigger game than you do in the city.  “Want to go out for lunch?”  No.  I was in the woods, a real recluse on whiskey listening to the contemplation of Michelle Taransky , who said            she saw something more natural,  and I felt her when she made it out in paper, and the piece so moved by the whispering of the branch bark and leaves falling their own lessons through it, it can’t make the proper apologies for the nature of this bustling traffic and your ugly faces pinched.  Why is that you want to paint the cabinets white?  After hiding in them for three days straight, only to come out and pour a coffee that will make you nervous about Bill in the Office and Who stretches you from limb to limb in the affair of your own human emotions in the social hierarchy you’re not part of?  Fuck this, I’ll be in the woods, had have you been, there, the woods, would have told you the word on : Just Where We Fucked Up and What we are made of.  I guess I’m a little angry, naturally, and going to the woods.  You check a mirror.

Sorry, Michelle, they can’t hear the woods from here, maybe they should go In and take your book with them?

Michelle Taransky lives in Philadelphia where she works at Kelly Writers House, is Review Editor for Jacket2, and teaches writing at University of Philadelphia and Temple University.  She is co-coordinator of “Whenever We Feel Like It” a reading series and has published other books, Barn Burned, Then (Omnidawn, 2009) and is featured in the Anthology: The City Visible:  Chicago Poetry For The New Century (Cracked Slab Books, 2007).  Take her work into the woods and experience new ways of their words, symbol, truth, and meaning.

Reviewer: Brandon Petty is a southern writer and journalist. He is first year MFA student in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and Bombay Gin‘s Book Reviews Assistant Editor.

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