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You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake: Anna Moschovakis (James Laughlin Award Winner, 2011)

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Selected by Juliana Spahr, Brian Teare, and Mónica de la Torre as winner of the 2011 James Laughlin Award.

 

“Anna Moschovakis boldly writes as though Plato had never kicked poets out of the Republic, and in You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake, she takes up the citizen’s task of thinking through political and existential issues relevant to lives lived in increasing dependence on internet access and globalization both. Her manner, however, resembles philosophy only in its reliance on a grammar of apparent objectivity: “We start not with theory,” she proclaims, “but with tangible performance,” “with experience, magic/genuine science.” Beneath their controlled and imperturbable surfaces, her poems perform the painful experience of the complicity with injustice that comes with citizenship―while lamenting colonization, opportunism, and capitalism, her poems search themselves for the common root of the urge toward empire, asking: “is it more than you would have done?” At its most critical, this searching reveals the “underbelly” of each of her many subjects: industry leads to waste, labor leads to boredom, wealth leads to guilt, and intimacy leads to misprision. But this ambitious and compassionate book also believes―or hopes―that mindful attention to language might happily lead us elsewhere, toward other economies, other ways of being here together. “One letter at a time we build relationships,” Moschovakis declares, “even though the letter is only a virtual letter and the labor, such as it is, is free.”
Brian Teare

 

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