[REVIEW] All You Do is Perceive, by Joy Katz

Katz

Four Way Books
84 pages/ $15.95

Review by Rachel Mennies

I read All you Do Is Perceive in transit. I read in places where Joy Katz herself may have conducted studies for this polyphonous collection: on the subway. In the airport. I listened to the child in the seat behind me wail, our plane delayed, as Katz’s speaker describes the early weeks of life with her adopted son: “The parents, as if clubbed between the eyes / but with no memory of it, regard the infant / who has no self regard…”

Especially surrounded by this pulsing human noise, Katz’s third collection of poetry shows readers a loud, beautifully chaotic world rendered with astonishing precision. The speakers throughout position themselves as observers at all scales: a poem for the tiny pot of jam, described and imagined from each side; a poem for the lettuce in its plastic bag; a poem for the moment the speaker first touches her child. We try on Katz’s sharp, lyric visions, even literally in “Excuse Me, Where is Varick Street?”: “Can you see out of my eyeholes?” asks the speaker. “Are you comfortable?” Throughout the collection, these poems enact the process of making sense of a world suddenly and gloriously disrupted by the presence of new life. Continue reading

Wolf and Pilot, by Farrah Field (A Review by Diana Arterian)

Four Way Books

72 pgs/$15.95

“We are the girls. Everything in the world points to us”

 

Farrah Field’s book Wolf and Pilot just out from Four Way is a freaky narrative-ish collection telling of many things, but particularly of four young sisters running away from home. They don’t go far, interacting with the mother they have run from, entering homes and spaces otherwise closed (strange bedrooms, underground). The beauty here is in the uncertainty- the girls are gone, home, perhaps mere specters. It is their absolute agency and mobility that troubles any certainty. This ultimately adds to the power of book, keeping the reader searching for the next hard kernel of information, which she gets often enough to follow Field’s compelling narrative. Wolf and Pilot has seven players: there is the detective (Henry), the teacher, the mother/witch (Helen), and the four runaway daughters (Elsianne, Matilda, Emaline and Aubrie). Periodically there are stray characters who try to make their way into the story, but can’t quite puncture it. This is demonstrated in “Bedtime Stories,” when a girl (Abigail) rings the doorbell and Helen answers it:

“A clitoris could be pinned down
like a dissected frog the witch said.
Abigail said what are you talking about and went away the only

friend we ever had.” Continue reading