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Books Noted: Catherine Wagner, My New Job


Fence Books, 2009

Catherine Wagner's exciting new collection is organized into several sections, the first of which comprises poems all written in between sets of physical therapy exercises, with one line per set. What resulted from the act of mixing physical and writing exercises are poems that feel as immediate and drifting as thought. They enact the unique dance between language and body. Some resemble ancient Chinese poems:

I politely rise to meet
                my knee
    As I get sorer in the belly
       I hate the knee
am however diligent and strict

Although the longer poems roam through house and life, the others are pointed and critically driven. They delve into current ideas of sexuality and speak with a slangy determination to expose. Akilah Oliver writes about the collection, "Rich with imagery, these poems are the body that holds the intelligence of critical desire."

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