Carrie Lorig, nods., Magic Helicopter Press, 2013

Reviewed by Nathan Kemp

[Review Guidelines]

Out of kindness comes redness and out of rudeness comes rapid same question, out of an eye comes research, out of selection comes painful cattle.

—"A Box," Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein

The above quote is an appropriate epigraph for Carrie Lorig's chapbook, nods., published by Magic Helicopter Press, as her chapbook is all kinds of nesses, be it cultishness, pinkishness, or gentleness. But not unhappiness or lovelessness.
     This book belongs to a dead ocean, washes over you with thousands of cattle hooves, which is to say you'll be surprised at how pumped you will feel when you finish one of the poems. The work is dense, but reliable in its own kind of unreliability. Ordinarily, I'd attribute unreliability as a bad trait for a speaker, but Lorig's speaker is so easy to love because of its density of language, because of its in-step repetition, because of its love-letter-blocks that kick open your human-heart-wishing-to-be-cattle-heart.

it's like dissecting the pain beast and following it at the same time. this part is a body i've never heard of. this part is a body i've never heard an animal noise from. animals make noiseflowers, sweeter and tamer than any animal writing. animals make noiseanimals that eat spaces in the earth. animals make animal clowns that speak like the earth. i said this book of animal writing in order to find the hurricane sugars in the hooves of pain beasts. i eat the earth that hunches up into the soft spaces of their feet, the little hurricane lockets, and my body tightens and tightens with more parts. the pain beast munches bedroom dust out of my palms.

In "SCATTERSTATE," (the poems are all titled "SCATTERSTATE," "CATTLEHURTER," or "IT CAN'T BE LOVE / BUT IT MUST BE LOVE") Lorig's speaker dissects and reassembles a beast, eager to discover something new in a literal sense. nods. is an enthusiastically sensory collection, as there are cattle, nightmares, and echoes offering a frayed length of rope to tug you in, deeper and deeper. The speaker is naïve, but curious—in love with the world. But rather than choosing select words to convey that love, the speaker uses all the words in a way that conveys genuine admiration. That's what nods. is at its core—a series of innocent love letters to the world.
    I think this is the kind of book independent publishers should be producing, that is books that appear to be perfect fits with their publisher. The poems in nods. use the whole page of the custom-cut chapbook in a useful, has-to-be-this-way way, that is to say, Gertrude Stein would be proud. I've found myself writing differently since I finished Lorig's poems, and isn't that what a first chapbook should do?
     In another "SCATTERSTATE," the speaker opens by stating, "i write with a bad mouth you can dance to" and ends with "these letters drink a fifth of American grain, space, and groan with grass." The poem, and the overall collection, screams duende over and over again at me in a way that makes me want to carry Tender Buttons and nods. with me every day forever, and I can't think of a more authentic, more flamenco-colored work I've read in the past year.