Poetry News

Daniel Poppick Has a Lovely Sense of Francesca Lisette's Teens

By Harriet Staff


We've previously made mention of Francesca Lisette and her book Teens (Mountain Press 2012); brilliance heaps on brilliance, right, so now Daniel Poppick has taken to her, too. Poppick talks about the book for Rescue Press's blog, noting that "she brandishes an almost crystalline density as easily as a kid throws a rock through a window." More, more, more:

. . . Lisette writes so that each new word in a line inaugurates a new idiom, and by the time she’s finished a clause (if she ever has—most of them are still happening) you feel like you’ve been driving through this neighborhood your whole life, only it isn’t your life. Reading it reminded me that style itself—I mean an original dialect or tone of voice and everything (super)human that falls behind it—can be deeply moving while still remaining true to the poet’s ideas/politics. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, it’s exciting to watch someone bring the full force of her intellect onto the page. Each poem here is a little book and as a set they crack open new realms of experience.

2. Where were you when you first read, or saw, or heard of this book?

I read a couple of these poems in the first issue of The Claudius App almost two years ago and was immediately hooked. The book arrived on my doorstep in Iowa City last September and I took it everywhere I went for almost two months. I read one or two poems at a time for days on end, which is not how I normally read a book of contemporary poetry. It felt like learning a new language.

3. Did this book influence your own writing, thinking, sense of the world, or work?

Besides the aforementioned stuff it’s made me think about how a poet can write drama (out of a lineage that might consider Stein’s Tender Buttons and John Clare’s Major Works dramatic texts), poetry as performance; the athletic performance of syntax and idiom in which an impossible gymnastic move is pulled off like it’s nothing: “folded in the wing of your shoulder love/ sleeps there, phallic in grey dawn that shrinks/ sky to darts else bargain on drums right & left/ (yeah haaa drunk on soda irony) the true offing/ else dwarfed by the ungoverned outline of/ beauty calling deep throne.” The book’s central section, Casebook: A History of Autonomy and Anger, could also be read explicitly as a kind of script with multiple rolls and voices. Of course ”readership” and “audience” and even “performership” overlap all the time (especially in poetry), but I still find it moving how Lisette engages all three.

4. Give us a line or excerpt from the text that intrigues, engages, mystifies, inspires, disgusts, or transforms you. Discuss…

A poem from the “Casebook” section, ”Witness Account 01/12″:

Seizing up the weakened cradle your bent-black chest is present to, louder in the gritted wind. Notes of lice tinkle down in sun, hard with malformed lushness, muffled in swathes or a swept lip. You press me volatile to your pure solicitations, which complicates my being ONLY A TOY. Not for labels are their teeth arrowing out like angels sicked on ash vulvar. We make a face, or two, playing for feed at whites with hiccup ‘self/object’: sheathed in PLAYDOH. Slip away knowledge as dust booms the bar; nook hanging as a blond void, to be filled, or something like it. Renders impulse slide nectarine: breaks open the police-helmet, sniggering at small stitch. Speechless with depth, we relinquish flounce & pass on so naked, burnt as a side remainder of what catches in the real light of day.

Read the rest of Dan Poppick reading Francesca Lisette here.

Originally Published: February 4th, 2013