Schema, Alli Warren, Housepress, 2004

Reading this chapbook, I kept finding some little nuance or charm I had missed in the previous take. My similarity-reference-needle kept wildly jumping around, one minute the poems possessed an Alan Davies-grade morphed intensity of differed eros, the next they felt like what might happen if Elizabeth Robinson started writing flarf. My conclusion: these are the early voicing of a highly distinct writer.

There are instances of sense here framed within a feeling for mental space which is allowed to remain partially distanced while also magnetizing along vectors of curiosity, humor, and warmth. The poems keep moving toward, and refracting through, different series of questions -- carefully arranged, funny, slightly inappropriate in an unpredictable way, and possessed of a charged and balanced intelligence.

& negation

here & there

your little lazy sex
immoderately expands
great pleasure from
watering the garden
with a hose

the larynx
is smaller than
& I am
to make resolutions

Warren's line can be blunt and delicate at the same time:

On the subway
trumpet sounds,
dragonflies screw
in the air above us

A correspondence inherent in the psychic energy required of word arrangement and the ability to both process sense perception and navigate a scrutiny of emotive states becomes, in her work, a poetic space of allowance with a vacillating rhythm of hiding and disclosing that connects it with the poetic tradition of Emily Dickinson. There are places where it glows with the energy of unspoken wishes and unspoken complaints fused at the moment where they manifest in a string of words.

There are some poems in Schema, where, within a certain limit of warmth they becoming almost Olson-like lyrically honed motions of perception, without losing any of the humor or oddness:

Velle non discitur
did you mean or

terra cotta I meaning
the hair in my eyes

smelling like "beer"
have you seen my dictionary

looking like "underpants"
are we the polis eyes

still awaiting fever
however subjunctive

the intention
in our starry air

naked error how to say
a sedentary peninsula

we can't go out and play
on the mainland

the surrounding area neither
yet known as phenomena

we are loaded full of fruit
I mean not conclusively.

The feelings, circumstances, and thinking are all handled with great care and verve in this work. Warren can handle both impossible and ordinary situations between people as well as situations which occur between the conflicting layers of oneself.

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