Poetry News

Tyrone Williams Reviews CAConrad's While Standing in Line for Death

By Harriet Staff
CAConrad, While Standing in Line for Death, cover

CAConrad's While Standing in Line for Death (Wave, 2018) is reviewed by Tyrone Williams for Lake Forest College's journal Plume. "In case you skipped over the title, While Standing in Line for Death is a dark, brooding book that only begrudgingly offers its consolations, the brief pleasures possible for all living things. To that extent, this book may indeed 'soften panic' but that doesn’t mean it ever stops flashing RED ALERT!" writes Williams. More:

The global, national, and personal stakes cannot, for CAConrad, be sidestepped. This is a poetry “too urgent for punctuation” (24), at least for the writing rendered in stanzas. Nonetheless, or perhaps because of its stance toward the world, While Standing in Line for Death demonstrates that CAConrad is, in the end, a poet of defiant joy, straddling the line between self-indulgent cynicism and simpering happiness. He is a poet who fiercely embraces impossibility as the very condition of the hard-won anger and despair raging through this book.

So how is the impossible rendered “possible” by CAConrad’s invocations of (soma)tic rituals? As indicated by its parenthetical rendering, the (soma)tic ritual bleeds into the social and public spheres as a spasm (a “tic”) under no authority, be it legal, moral, ethical or, in the first instance, biological (i.e., hygienic). At the same time the tic, seme of an uncontrollable body, appears in public as pop-up acts of private memorialization (e.g., the opening section of the “Earth” poems is dedicated to his murdered partner, who went by that name) and civic activism (e.g., “I occupied a street a busy street in Asheville, North Carolina to bless children with bubbles that will make them queer,” p. 36). Though each (soma)tic ritual is the occasion for its transcription into a poem (“I took notes” is a recurring motif), ritual, however premeditated, is subservient to chance...

Read on at Plume.

Originally Published: September 12th, 2018