$14.00 • 125 pp. • 2004
“Moriarty enters the third decade of her career with an exciting book that extends both the penchant for splitting, doubling and twinning seen in Symmetries (1996) and the enigmatic handling of narrative fragments first perfected in the brilliant and bewildering Nude Memoir (2001). The book’s two unevenly sized sections form an asymmetrical diptych, mirroring Moriarty’s densely patterned, obliquely framed glimpses of the self as it shades into and is sometimes eclipsed by the ‘other.’ ‘My Disappearance’ unfolds over the course of 72 poems, some in chiseled stanzaic forms that rival Robert Creeley at his best, others in prose paragraphs favoring opacity, incompleteness and indeterminacy. Returning repeatedly to the ways in which war and empire form the unreachable horizon of subjective experience, these poems are remorseless and poignant at once: “I don’t miss my friends/ Who have become unknown to me/ The truth can’t be communicated/ The war keeps us in touch.” The much shorter second section counts among its 11 poems a 13-page meditation on ‘cryptophasia’ (the language twins often concoct to communicate with one another) that synthesizes many of the book’s most persistent themes and weaves in numerous citations from other writers (John Wilkinson, Brent Cunningham, Giorgio Agamben, Gail Scott). Starkly nonidentical, these twin sections add up to one of the best books of poems to be published so far this year. (Oct.)”
“My mind. Our work. The war.’ In Self-Destruction Laura Moriarty powerfully presents us with a mystery. An author is being pursued by her character. She sees this and she sees that. One of the two has to pay for the other. ‘But the world is a threat.’ While we hope for ambiguity-ending relations in this time of transitive, empty war nothing is ever settled.”
“In producing a poem the poet disappears, as with his Let there be light God put himself in the dark. Laura Moriarty is hidden in or excluded from these beautiful poems of Self-Destruction, which live their own luminous lives.”
“Although it is insulting to be ‘selfish’ one loves the habit of saying ‘I…’—we have good reason to be skeptical of that habit. So while love is the first principle of Self-Destruction, Moriarty observes it in couples, couplets, and tempos that do themselves in with joy. Musically, thoughtfully, emotionally, this is a practical book. Live with it.”
Laura Moriarty was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and in Northern California. She attended the University of California at Berkeley. She was the Director of the American Poetry Archives at the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University for many years. She has taught at Naropa University and Mills College and is now the Deputy Director of Small Press Distribution. Her books include A Tonalist (2010), A Semblance : Selected and New Poems, 1975-2007 (2007), Ultravioleta (2006), Nude Memoir (2000), The Case (1998), Spicer’s City (1998), Symmetry (1996), L’Archiviste (1991), Like Roads (1990), and Rondeaux (1990).