Poetry News

Matt Longabucco's Everybody Suffers

By Harriet Staff

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Entropy just keeps on: Lizzy Crawford reviewed O'Clock Press's Everybody Suffers: The Selected Poems of Juan Garciá Madero, translated from the Spanish by Matt Longabucco. You might remember García Madero as the 17-year-old "Visceral Realist" in Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives. Finally, we have the young poet's own writing in our hands. Crawford writes:

And in The Savage Detectives something does go slack for García Madero. He loses contact with the Visceral Surrealists and gets sickly and depressed. Tension and slackness are like weird hydraulics of fate. They are like learning: as it leaks out of flesh’s realm forever in Juan García Madero’s poem, ‘The Dawn of the Alchemists.’ Something does leak out of the flesh’s realm. Perhaps it is dark, perhaps it is light, perhaps it is matter. What is it? It is this part that I do not understand yet....

Then there is the Switchboard Operator:

I feel as though Everybody Suffers is haunted by the poem “Hold the Line.” Maybe it’s just that I am looking for the omnipresent beast that connects us all and maybe that is my personal stupidity but it still haunts me and the switchboard operator is not those things per se, but she haunts me too.

She was the switchboard operator for the whole district,
though you might say she was really giving human being lessons,
so you could say she was doomed to fail,
offhand but profound lessons like the one about how to “hold your seat”

This poem, as I said earlier, bruised my ego when I first heard it read aloud. It bruised my ego because of this feeling I had that maybe even the angel inside my head—who might have the possibility of connecting the conflicting passageways in my battered brain—even she was suspect, even she was most see-through, more see through than the happiness of couples and friends on sunny afternoons. Even seeing through that happiness was like prison. It’s the process of prison perhaps and not the prison of bars. It is like the circle that the animal in Rilke’s cage draws, who walking in circles suddenly dilates. And the animal’s muscle tightens/slackens simultaneously; we experience a change of mind. ‘Hold the Line’ is the set-up of a pattern in which the intelligence that connects human beings, maybe it’s language, the sweetness of the seeing through-ness is tightening and then abandoning all children. We are orphans by the operator, the orphaned one (though she is arctic, she is no such thing)...

Read the full review (and correct line breaks!) at Entropy, and make sure to check out the other new chapbook releases from O'Clock, which include Jean Day's insanely good Early Bird, and Dawn Lundy Martin's beautifully agitated The Main Cause of the Exodus.