I recently had a conversation with my father about my new chapbook, the substance of which was that he didn't really know what to make of it. It's a troublesome and troubling little book, partly because what it's made of--literally and figuratively, of military cloth. That's not to lay the troubles of Abu Ghraib at the feet of the military, but to say that it happened in wartime, and that the military as much as the intelligence operatives played a role in making it happen.
In contrast to my dad, my mom said the book made it hard for her to breathe. That's pretty much the response most writers would dream for.
And yesterday, this came out of Joseph Ross' blog, a review of abu ghraib arias:
Philip Metres has created an important document here, an important poetic document. It’s not easy to read; in some ways it makes true the cliche “beautiful but not pretty.” This series of poems reminds us of the misery war brings. It reminds us of the potential in all of us to disfigure one another, to treat one another as worse than objects.I first learned of Joseph Ross through his co-editorship of a great little anthology, Cut Loose The Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib--a key contribution to the poetry of human rights and in response to torture, and later at Split This Rock. His first book of poems, Meeting Bone Man, is shortly forthcoming from Main Street Rag, and I suspect that his work will broach some of these themes as well.
read the entire review here.
If you've read this book, and want to weigh in, I'd be curious to hear what you make of it.