Paul Baumann Reviews Lissa Kiernan’s Two Faint Lines in the Violet
Do you happen to know Faulkner's speech, on the occasion of his acceptance of the Nobel Prize? It comes to mind, as he apparently had to work a bit against the perception that his work created a pessimistic attitude. It’s a horror, to say the least, to look back, with Faulkner, to the Civil War, and to contemplate the current situation, in which his metaphors seem all the more stridently realized, "the only question now is when will I be blown up?". Nothing different has emerged from the ground that Faulkner depicted with a musical vividness.
Lissa Kiernan's book, Two Faint Lines in the Violet (Negative Capability Press, 2014), has the same fierce determination not to flinch, and the same sense of wonder, the same idea of what a poet's job is: Not to avoid reality, but to take up the most abject along with the most lulling, and to make something that stays wonderful from the materials of experience. We need to see these images of ourselves blown up, just as we need to have new, beautiful songs.
It’s been some weeks since I read it now, but its rich atmosphere along with its palpable embedments continue to resonate, being mixed now with the amazement of Absalom, Absalom, which I am now reading for the first time.
--Paul Baumann, multimedia artist