Poetry News

People Are Getting to Know Your Work: On Ben Mirov's Hider Roser

By Harriet Staff

Laura Carter reviews Ben Mirov's new book, Hider Roser (Octopus Books 2012), over at Fanzine. "There is a telling epigraph, and there is a telling cover," she writes. More:

I’m immediately reminded, upon viewing the latter, of a camera obscura, the Marxist reading of “what ideology is,” and I find it, well, curious, a curio cabinet of sorts, that puts me in mind of other things, too. The epigraph, startling as it is, is simply this: “for I have no idea.” Does anything happen but the place, then? Are we enraptured by these dark/light chiaroscuro moments? What does this book have to say?

The beginning begs a question: What does the speaker see? Nothing? We are never entirely sure, as readers, but the title poem gives us a few clues as to who this speaker is, and whether or not he (or she) is consistent throughout the book. “Hider Roser” gives us the origin of the book’s title:

Pretty soon you have a loft
and people are getting to know your work
rearranging the letters in horse rider
you get hider roser, which means something
you will never understand
with only a few minutes left
one end of the hose going into your head and the other
going don’t know where. (17-24)

I’m reminded of an artist of some kind, one perhaps with an indie aesthetic which (ultimately) creates a drifter, a situationist almost adrift with lack of commitment. Later, in the poem “Orgasmanism,” we get another clue as to what is going on with (shall we call him?) “Hider Roser,” this character who’s been created to create a particular effect, I suppose: “Statuesque” (20). What does this mean? Is there a horse in the shadows of this statue, or is there only a rider, horse-rider, as we believe the letters tell us? There are further clues, though.

Then, in a couple of swift moves, Carter both calls the book Lacanian and relates it to Heather Christle's work...

The (plaintive) end of “The Purloined Letter” takes shape here, as Mirov deftly (and this is a brilliant Lacanian book) encourages, in his Postscript, that the ideologically-captured throw away the key, the purloined letter itself. As poems often remind us, of is what belongs to something, what is part of something else, and not a free-standing structure.

In the most pedestrian sense of the term, pragmatically, this book speaks to “Hider Roser” at the end of its long foray into the darkness of the world’s night, the center of the world, so to speak. Mirov, hidden throughout the book, but still somehow maintaining authorial control over these well-crafted poems, instructs the reader, at the end of the book, a camera obscura that it is, to throw away the key. If simile stands as analogy, a moving toward that represents the beginning of thinking critically, then what Mirov’s book wants to do is to move the reader (much as Heather Christle does in The Trees The Trees) toward a place past the “like-lake” that we’ve come to associate, culturally, with a sameness that critical theory seeks to dissipate.

Read it all!

Originally Published: November 19th, 2012