The Art of Work
Louis Zukofsky once wrote that poetry’s lower limit was speech and its upper limit was music. Jen Fitzgerald’s The Art of Work recalibrates these limits for a contemporary working class poetry whose lower limit here is the killing floor or the garden-level apartment and whose upper limit might be workers’ comp or, quite simply, a shift coming to an end. The Art of Work turns this “history of necessity” into brilliant, tightly honed verse. It should be read across the classes, across the classrooms, in union halls, at literary festivals, and on the picket lines.
Jennifer Fitzgerald’s bolts of poetic power are increasingly lighting up the night. In this collection, Fitzgerald’s poetics sets out to rethread fragmented personal experience, family lore, socio-cultural prohibitions and allowances, in order to bear down on staid notions of labor and the working body. What’s achieved is a historical perspective that has both sweep and depth. What’s implicitly rejected is an all-too- easy thumbs up “like” of struggle. Fitzgerald’s elevated Intercultural Poetic Competence (IPC), borne of a rigorous examination of the political forces most proximate to her social origins, allows her to radically reframe both speculative and applied knowledges of Solidarity, knowledges long overdue for a retrofitting in the 21 st century. Thus, it is not a “work of art” that intrigues us here, but rather, The Art of Work.
Jen Fitzgerald describes her collection of poems in the Art of Work as being a collaborative labor. How else could it be with her amazing feel for the world of work and the art she finds in it. Her connection is made primarily through those who labor in the processing, retailing, and serving of animal products. Amongst the workers, many members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, there is story telling which brings you into a world which is tumultuous in images and emotions.
The workplace which separates families by long hours, the banality, the seldom appreciated skill, the glimpse of friendship, the ongoing struggle to maintain dignity, the solidarity when it exists presents work life at its toughest. Would that there was more light and message of hope. Perhaps that is the point. The organizing and cries for revolt and emancipation will have to come from our throats.
Reviews and News
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners and finalists for the 2017 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: UNMANNED by Jessica Rae Bergamino
We will be also publishing Inland Empire by Leah Huizar
Orient by Nicholas Gulig
Ochre/Orpheus by Meredith Stricker
Bodega by Su Hwang
STET by Dora Malech
We Are Too Big for This House by Sara Borias
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2016 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry.
Winner: Indictus by Natalie Eilbert
Finalist: Careen by Grace Shuyi Liew
We will be also publishing Gentry!fication: or the scene of the crime by Chaun Webster and A Problem and Some Space by Hannah Ensor
The Devil’s Workshop by Xavier Cavazos
Hagia Animalia by Sara Biggs Chaney
Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Leaving Impulse by Rachel Martin
Manipur by Robin McLachlen
The Historians of Redundant Moments: Novel in Poems by Nandini Dhar
Northern Ledger by Kate Partridge
Probable Garden by Bronwen Tate
Saints and Cannibals by Robert Lunday
Winter Swimmers by Carolyn DeCarlo
Woman, Yielding by Andrea Blancas Beltran
un/documented—kentucky—songs by Steven Alvarez
The editors of Noemi Press are excited to announce the winners, finalists, and semi finalists for the 2015 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry. We received about 400 poetry submissions this year and thank all the writers who submitted for trusting us with their work.
Bone Confetti by Muriel Leung
Natality by E. G. Means
MOUTHS by Claire Marie Stancek
We will also be publishing finalist Vanessa Villarreal’s manuscript Beast Meridian in the Akrilica series.
They Go In Pairs by Samuel Ace
Arcadia, Indiana (a tragedy) by Toby Altman
You Can Take It Out by Cheryl Clark Vermeulen
Red of Split Water-A Burial Rite by Lisa Donovan
Century Worm by Todd Fredson
Actual Echo by Matthew Mahaney
A Turkish Dictionary by Andrew Wessels
Vogel describes her early experiences of reading and writing as “a bridging between [her] voice and [her] body,” as a kind of communion. “Language slowed the world for me,” she recalls, “it gave me a sense of tactility, a skin to encase my thinking.” Vogel’s visceral experience of language is palpable in Between Grammars; there is a sense of tactility ever-present. Beyond the philosophical exploration, reading this book is as much a sensory experience as an intellectual one, the text shot through with light, sound, and touch.
Armendinger is a master at using fragmented language with precise purpose. His poems experiment with language and form—this collection includes a poem delivered in the form of an instant messenger conversation, and a poem placed as a footnote within another poem—but never read as mere avant-garde posturing. Instead, Armendinger again and again finds new ways to use defamiliarized language to access the unsayable.
It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a poet who can so powerfully, vividly, and gracefully engage with the problems of language and the world. The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is a vital book: experimental, substantial, fragmented, unified, unsettled, and unsettling, Armendinger’s work is key reading for all those who care about what our broken words can do.
Danielle Vogel’s book BETWEEN GRAMMARS is forthcoming in 2015, and in this profile she shares her “holy books” including Whitman, Plath, and Woolf, among others!
At Bloom Literary Journal, you can read the poem “Casual Sex” by Brent Armendinger, whose book The Ghost In Us Was Multiplying is forthcoming in January, 2015.
J. G. McClure reviewed Bruce Covey’s Change Machine for Cleaver Magazine:
Think about the change machine outside your car wash: you put in a dollar, the machine spits out coins. Not a neat bundle, but a jangling tray-full. Now think of William Carlos Williams: “A poem is a machine made of words.”Now give William Carlos Williams superpowers and have him beat the hell out of the car wash while musing on Pokémon, Barthes, and metapoetics, and you’ve got a sense of Bruce Covey’s Change Machine.
$15 Paperback | September 2016