Maps and Transcripts of the...
This “innovative” poetry collection “uses text and image to explore the strangeness inherent in everyday experience” (Publishers Weekly).
“I take seven photographs turning / in a circle, a panorama, / but how will I place them hanging / on a wall back home? Something already slipping,” Kathryn Cowles writes. These poems surround a central question: how much of a moment is captured by the mechanisms we use to describe it? How much of the shore, the birds, the feeling? In pursuit of an answer, Cowles leads readers through a sequence of distinct landscapes (islands, plains, mountains, oceans), puzzling over and embracing the valley between literature and lived experience. Along the way, Cowles’s language is light but recursive, rotating around beloved places: a new house, a garden, a seemingly endless plane ride, a battery-operated spit of lamb, a photograph of a battery-operated spit of lamb, dogs, Sue, Ohio. This collection defamiliarizes and refamiliarizes the “actual world,” while navigating toward the clear and substantial stuff of living. Arresting on both visual and textual levels, Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World isa collection that lingers in memory and place, in the unsettled distance between reality and its transcriptions.
“Deftly shows that as we struggle to transform into language what we see and hear and feel, the results are inevitably incomplete; there’s a gap between what we want to say and what we actually manage.” —Library Journal
“The need to catalog, to document, and to mourn are all active forces in Cowles’s poems . . . a work of grappling with the representational and the real and the thin boundaries between them.” —Colorado Review