Wednesday, November 29, 2006



On the Fly by Amy King
(New York: Flux de Bouche Press, 2005)

Amy King’s On the Fly is a book of questions, a book that takes language as we know it and twists it so that it seems on the point of meaning something but something not entirely clear. At times, the poems border on the surreal, whereas at times a satirical lyrical figure peaks through with clarity. Her statement in “Tell the World What You Want Them to” works well as a theme for the collection: “The truth is we’re all detectives finalizing / a statement on what’s true and increasingly bogus.” What’s true is multifaceted in this work, for King takes narrative and splinters it into myriad fragments of consciousness that seem to deepen or at least expand a reading of the text.

“Putting the Foreign in Place” is a good example of her technique, for in the first stanza we can see her use of parataxis and subtle connections:

The truth is, the alien befits us.
Lightning, likewise, draws sound.
We think pale green and grey
will cover these bruises,
cloak or camouflage or whatever it takes
to join a neighbor’s part, pretend we’re one
of them, holding onto daddy’s arm
for the sake of deeper fragilities.

The first two lines do not seem connected in any clear way until we read the rest of the stanza, and even then, what connection there is seems tenuous, as if a barely conscious connection, but since the stanza ends with the “deeper fragilities,” barely conscious connections might be just the most important motivating ones for action or inaction.

Reading this text, one needs to be able to float in language, ready to pull in peripheral bits into a whole. That’s how King’s technique seems to work in this book, through distortion. As we see the slightly familiar distorted image in front of us, we try to recognize it and incorporated the bits of distortion. In this attempt we see interesting new ideas emerge and see language pushing us to new insights.

On the Fly is a short but interesting collection, one that grapples with questions of language, politics, and self. It’s a collection that would fit well on any shelf of books devoted to seeing what language can accomplish, what its boundaries and points of flex are.


Musician, sailor, poet, critic--William Allegrezza teaches and writes from his base in Chicago. His poems, articles, and reviews have been published in several countries, including the U.S., Holland, Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and are available in many online journals. Also, he is the editor of moria, a journal dedicated to experimental poetry and poetics, and the editor-in-chief of Cracked Slab Books. His e-books and books include The Vicious Bunny Translations, Covering Over, Temporal Nomads, Ladders in July, and In the Weaver’s Valley. He occasionally posts random thoughts on his blog p-ramblings.


At 10:46 PM, Blogger EILEEN said...

Another view is offered by Nathan Logan in GR #11 at


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