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I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone
Turtle Point Press, $16.95 (paper)
Plato’s Republic begins with the Ring of Gyges fable and ends with the banishment of poetry from the realms of knowledge. Near the beginning of her remarkable first collection Anna Moschovakis offers her own speculation on knowledge in a prose poem entitled “Thought Experiment: The Ring of Gyges”: “the content leaves something to be desired, but nobody knows what it is. Instead, they all know each blade of grass, how a criminal’s made, what constitutes grief and how it’s removed. In addition, they (kind of) know Kung Fu, Swahili, and the waltz.” With Plato, George Herbert and an unnamed Hélène Cixous acting as guiding lights throughout the book’s several sequences, I Have Not Been Able to Get Through to Everyone is concerned primarily with knowledge, its forms and its limitations. In this so-called Information Age we seem to know an awful lot, but the depth and rigor of our knowledge (like “the content” above) leaves something to be desired. In opposition to this Moschovakis pursues a knowledge stripped bare of pretensions. In one lyric she sets her mind on the relationship between names and sex, moving from insightful, disinterested comparisons of the two (people change their names and are treated as fundamentally the same while people change their sex and are treated fundamentally differently) into a less scientistic, more intimate space. “Like many people, I like hearing my name spoken during sex,” Moschovakis writes, nicely undercutting the impersonality of her speculation. Moments of intimacy like this save Moschovakis (not to mention the reader) from her own steely intellect. Instead of concluding in the antiseptic emerald city of Plato’s republic, Moschovakis’s inquiries leave her winding down poetry’s open road, and it is here that she is at liberty to be most herself: “In the city of my book,” her final “Winter Song” concludes, “the character’s blown-out / winding up alleys & leaving.”
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