Brooklyn Copeland's poems navigate a unique textual space. Her chapbook, Borrowed House: 15 Poems, balances several impulses that might seem contradictory: the erotic with the Platonic, the experimental with the traditional. The poems have a depth, solidity and slowness that distinguishes them from more urbanized post-avant poetry; they bespeak a slow gestation process and a gentle-but-firm crafting hand. The poems vacillate between awareness of an Other and awareness of Self, and the chapbook documents the vicissitudes of an involved, multi-faceted relationship. The poet's self-awareness interferes with her ability to give of herself: she narrates scenes in which "You find me sorting through half-filled/ dance cards, imagining a devout girl,/ fair of face, fat of thigh." This is from a poem called "Mild and Aloof as a Dove." Here and elsewhere, there is sharpness to Copeland's language, an unwillingness to spare or privilege herself, that acts as a counterweight to the rusticity and delicacy of the poems. This sharpness carries over into situations of a more graphic nature, as in "Weeds": "The sweat of you is split/ and I believe you when you swear/ that you've released/ your sweet seedstreams/ nowhere/ near me, but back into the dust." Every engagement between Copeland and her perceived Other leads to a disengagement; every path seems to bring the lovers farther apart, rather than closer together. Yet the book ends with a tender reconciliation, and the realization that "a little rust can't be helped." We, as audience, become "the shallow face/ that presses into the window,/ surveying all that was," and it is a scene well worth watching.
Philip Larkin wrote a poem called "The Importance of Elsewhere," that had to do with the freedom that can only come when you are either traveling or settled in a foreign country. That freedom, and the strangeness that attends to it, are the subject of Morgenland, a chapbook originally released in 2007, while poet David Prater was living in Seoul, South Korea. The poems express culture shock, bemusement, awe, and a feeling of transience or impermanence that has a clear resonance with Buddhist philosophy. We are informed that Ko Un is Korea's most famous living poet, and in "Drunk as Ko Un" we see Prater narrate the following: "Audience of subway strangers. Stagger at them! Pelt/ them with praise! I'm Ko Un, and I'm drunker than a/ poem. This text, pirated, sallies forth upon the bristled/ breeze. Ko Un!" The poet steeps himself in the mysteries of a foreign culture, and his poems become rather like circus mirrors, showing us another culture via his own obsessions, feelings, and responses. Yet the chapbook ends with the poet placing himself "Back to the Tourist," left again in a liminal locale: "freshly paved street/ sheets of burning rubber/ castle motel conventions/ buses without destinations." The chapbook takes on the flavor of a joyride in stolen (Korean) car, and we travel the width of a circle until we are home again, which is on the road, moving, forever. The message is change; the Buddha would be proud.
Adam Fieled is a poet, critic, and musician based in Philadelphia. He has released four books: Opera Bufa (Otoliths, 2007), Beams (e-book, Blazevox, 2007), When You Bit... (Otoliths, 2007), and Chimes (Blazevox, 2009). He has also released a number of chapbooks, include Posit (Dusie Press, 2007), Revolver (Scantily Clad Press, 2008), and Help! (Greying Ghost Press, 2008). He edits the web-journal PFS Post and maintains the blog Stoning the Devil. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he also holds an MFA from New England College, and an MA from Temple University, where he is completing his doctorate.