Loads of Learned Lumber

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jennifer Moxley. _Often Capital_

HER THIRD BOOK, but comprised of a work that at least in part predates that in her first book, Imagination Verses -- so I gather from Moxley's afterword. Often Capital republishes two early chapbooks, "The First Division of Labour" (1995) and "Enlightment Evidence" (1996), and a darned good thing, too, seeing as the original chapbooks had print runs of 50 and 125 copies, and my chances of getting ahold of either would be slender.

Since I read The Line and The Sense Record before reading Moxley's earlier poetry, I think of the voice(s) in those books as "how Moxley sounds," and so Often Capital doesn't "sound like Moxley" to me. Which is pretty damned silly. I mean, of course they sound like Moxley -- this is what Moxley sounded like. Strange how much difference it makes, which book of a writer one reads first. How often is it that whichever one you read first remains your favorite? Quite often, in my own case.

Nonetheless, one readily sees how the poems of Often Capital here connects to her later work. "The First Division of Labour" has affinities with "The Ballad of Her rePossession" and with "The Removal of Enlightenment Safeguards," I would say, in its contemplation of gender and power -- but "First Division" pales (for me) besides "Enlightenment Evidence" and its conjuring of Rosa Luxembourg. The historical specificity of this...poem? series of poems? serial poem? let's go with serial poem... and its evocation of daily domestic detail within the context of class and gender ideologies at a moment of political crisis... whew. "Enlightenment Evidence" introduces much of what is so powerful about Clampdown.

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