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Thread by @Heideggram: "I will now attempt to a poetry book. I got Apocalypse Mix by Jane Satterfield for Christmas. I put it on my list for some reason, […]" #livetweet

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I will now attempt to #livetweet a poetry book.

I got Apocalypse Mix by Jane Satterfield for Christmas. I put it on my list for some reason, but I don't remember anything about it, so this will have no personal bias.
I like the look of the book. It's got a kind of pulp fiction look to it. The cover image is a crow, power lines, and thornbushes. This is my world!
First thing I notice is that it won the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize. I'm already jealous because even though I didn't enter that contest, I have lost many chapbook and book contests.
It has a table of contents, which I like. There are 5 numbered sections. I always wonder about sections... why use them? They often seem so arbitrary. One of the sections only has one poem, so that intrigues me.
the second section *and* the fourth section are a single poem, so they divide the book. That's interesting.
Each section has its own epigrams... exhausting! Well, the first one is from the Clash and I find it amusing. It could be the epigram of any poetry book: "You have to deal with it." The second one is from another poet but it could just as well be Joni Mitchell on suburbia.
First poem is called "Radio Clash" so I'm glad it connects to the epigram so quickly.
tough time getting into the poem because it's about listening to records and it's reminding me of John Cusack and Jack Black in the Palahniuk movie. I just wasn't a music fan in that way.
but it flows and seems sincere, maybe it'll twist in an interesting direction
ok, not so much a twist but certainly a well filled-out poem, the details of a young life, and even if I wasn't a music nerd I did eventually fall in love with London Calling and could hear it blast through the end of the poem.
The next poem is called An Ideal For Living and it is dedicated to someone who only lived 24 years. oh boy, I better get ready
a little surprised to see I'm in a store again. She sure is good at describing stores.
oh, this is another music reference! the young man, the victim, is Ian Curtis, who is playing on the store sound system
even though I clearly don't know much about Joy Division, I like this poem, I like the understated ending that is still very much an ending.
ok, the next poem really wows me. It's about doing Yoga in a museum(??) and drifts back and forth between Yoga and World War I, the focus of the museum or nearby gallery or whatever
the same way your mind might drift as you do something meditative like Yoga. The form here is couplets, which for me works both as a kind of Yoga-like rhythm and also because it emphasizes the "coupling" of Yoga and WWI
I think my favorite part of the poem is the last word "crawl" which is referring to a news crawl but evokes both a Yoga position and also crawling in the trenches. Love this poem!
Imagine opening a book if you've never heard of poetry. You love books, love how they take you to other worlds, but have never heard of poetry books. The first thing that would strike you is how much EMPTY SPACE is in the book. It might even seem tragic to you
Look at all that room for words that was *wasted*. this writer could have written more... stuff... more of that world-traveling magic. But the poet is like the yogi, saying the space is needed, the space is for you, the reader, not to "fill" in but to "be" in.
Triptych is the next poem. It reminds me of T. S. Eliot but if you ask my why I'll stare blankly and look quite dumb so I won't dwell on that too much.
As you might imagine, Triptych is in three sections. The form is actually quite beautiful, and I would say that it saves the poem from its simplistic and didactic premise.
The next poem is Special Screening about a screening of Black Hawk Down. I notice right away that it's in couplets, but these couplets have short lines, and I'm finding it annoying, forced.
but after the first page it seems we are in a reception area drinking and eating hors d'oeuvres, so actually this kind of clipped, forced feeling matches the way I feel when I'm at events like this
and by the end I see other ways this couplet form is appropriate. Her veteran father is watching the war movie with her, trying to interject his own truth about what war is like, but he has to force it in when he can, in the spaces
the ending kills me: "those trained to make a difference." Do any of us make a difference? oh yes, these horrid couplets are perfect. I see that now. I know this feeling of getting too much stimulus too quickly, all a blur.
The next poem is also in couplets, but each couplet is a long line followed by a short line. This creates a more natural and contemplative rhythm. The poem itself does that impossible thing that some good poems do: blend the political and the personal.
Her poem Salt really gets to me, as it contemplates the working man, the union man, from the vantage of someone who never had to do physical labor... she even dares to imply that she is Bourgeois. For her, working is nostalgia for something she never did, but
runs in the family. She calls it myth...
I like a poet with the courage to attack herself
ah, and it's followed by some dark humor in the next poem! this is about as funny as a poem can be without rhyming. it skirts on the edge of being didactic, but it keeps its balance masterfully.
and then the first section ends with a Malediction. so far, so good! I love the implied threat of "you go or you don't"
after finishing the first section, I can't tell you what it's about. it just hits me as a collection of good poems... glad they're here for me to read... but of course the other sections might make sense of this one.
well, I do see some common themes... something about suburban distance from pain, vicarious and indirect ways of feeling
but I'm actually pleased by how different the poems are from each other. they sound and feel different
section 2 begins with a quote from Auden. I have to say I find it difficult and awkward to use epigrams. This one is so good, I'd be afraid to hold it next to my poems. It's about animals, or rather how we view animals, as perfect imprints of nature,
with the powerful implication that we don't see ourselves that way. we are fallen creatures.
ok, so I love how this poem starts. it's talking about the animals that were used in World War I. I love the use of history. This sounds like it's going to be fascinating.
and btw, since it's animals being used for war, it completely upends the epigram from Auden. So that's great. If you must use epigraphs, have fun with them.
so, this poem, which is also section 2, is almost pure history, which I enjoy, because I love history. I admire the poet for not trying to make it something else, even though I also enjoy poets who transform history.
now I'm very curious what section 3 will be like and how this poem fits in the overall structure.
Section 3 starts with a couple of war quotes. war was always in the background of section 1, it is the setting of section 2, and now...
first poem is Parachute Wedding Dress, about making something new from something war......
next poems is On Listening to Elizabeth II's Secret WWIII Speech. Is section 3 going to be about war's place in the imagination?
next poem is great, poignant and witty, some family history relating to World War 1 again
next poem doesn't knock my socks off but it does connect some dots by recalling a time when the poet considered joining the army
next poem is a very effective list of wounds you get no purple heart for.
another postwar poem about her Dad. she really captures the feeling of being talked at by someone (her Dad)
a third poem about her Dad. I'm getting a sense of sameness from these three poems, but most people have more tolerance for that than I do.
the next poem is a pleasant surprise, an uncanny evocation of my own childhood.
and that's the end of section 3. It's funny how poems about one's own childhood fit seamlessly with poems about one's father. they all blend together into a single nostalgia. but what's interesting is how this nostalgia is covered with war.
section 4 begins with a long quote on cultural identity and memory. no idea where she's going with this, although her previous section was certainly all about memory.
so, even though this looks like one poem in the contents, called Migrant Universe, this appears to be more like a collection of 7 prose poems
reading these prose poems, I'm noticing something interesting she does in these and in many other poems. She will italicize phrases with no explanation. One feels like they are inserted from other sources, even though the source isn't cited. It's an interesting effect.
i'm having difficulty with the prose pieces. the first three seem to be about the devastation of war, or the ruins long afterward, definitely still in the context of memory, or the context of new eyes seeing only the residue of someone else's memory.
the fourth prose poem I think is about the "migrant" and I do like how similar it is to war ruins, being in a place strange to you, finding or creating meaning
wow, this section is very different, though I suppose section 2 was also very different. This one is more stream of consciousness. Probably some people will like this section the most, but at this point I'm too tired. I can't take it. And frankly, it's what so many other poets do
so onto section 5, the last section (I really should have chosen a chapbook!)
section 5 begins with quotes from Sasson, the WW1 poet, and what is probably another musical reference I don't get, a quote from a song
speaking of stream of consciousness, another prose poem, but this one is for Virginia Woolf!
and after Woolf, we get the Civil War. History is really invading this section!
and now back to a childhood poem. once again she proves to be adept at bringing a scene to life. This feels like a callback to the first section, and I appreciate it for coherence's sake. But the connection to the Civil War is also clear with reference to a Klan march
ah, another curse! this is something poems can do! evoke the pure power of language. magic
followed by a Resurrection Spell. keep the magic going! I can't help but notice that the epigram is by someone born the same year as I am, but who died 10 years ago.
and now we're back with Bourgeoisie, but maybe she's given us the spells to escape it? Yes! "Memory which is nothing//if not aspirational"

we're back to memory, and memory aspires! memory as a mode to... improve? be saved? the poem almost violently escapes the
cafe of poets and wannabes and storms through a Virginia field, triumphant
next poem, Affinity with Orwell is very intriguing but I can't quite figure it out. Forgive me, this is tiring work.
the next poem is about a game, a game of war and conquest. my first thought comes from YouTube, where people watch other people play games. A nightmare scenario flashes in my brain of poems about games...
but this poem does it for a reason. In fact, for me it resonates with that chilling line I saw earlier, "those trained/to make a difference." The poem ends with a feeling of ultimate power, but it's just a game
oh and then a wonderful, funny poem "Why I Don't Write Nature Poems" makes all the right references and jokes. It also evokes the suburbia, the distance, but in a funny and self-deprecating way.
a very fitting last poem, Portuguese Man o'War, so it's about war but it's not about war, it's about being an alien, and delivers this great last line for the book: "Even dead you deliver a sting." Yes, so much of the book is about that.
The power of memory! The danger of memory!
and now I see there are end notes explaining all the italics. another journey for me to go on, like watching The Sixth Sense a second time.
Yes, great End Notes. I wish more books of poetry had end notes!
so, final thoughts about the book:
it's impressive. does some incorporation of history very deftly, the sort of thing I have trouble doing in my own work. when I try to do it, the history gets hidden and if I try to explain it I feel I'm being didactic
while the poems have range, which is great and makes this book stand out for me, they are united by themes of memory and war
so without being hyperbolic (one of her blurbers says this and her first book are "some of the most lyrically graceful .... collections in American poetry" Really???) I do recommend this book. It will enrich you. It is well researched and well crafted.
and a few of the poems hit it out of the park.

Ok, I'm going to collapse now. You should really try live tweeting a poetry book. It will make or break you... hahaha

THE END
btw, this is the press that published the book: @AutumnHousePrs
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