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Ivan Argüelles
Tri Loka

175 pages
ISBN 1-893541-72-x


Ivan Argüelles' poetry might be described as a labyrinth except that it is also a house afire. This work continues the extraordinary experiments of books like Madonna Septet--books which verge on the indescribable. Argüelles' work thrusts us into a world in which absolutely anything may be said. The book deliberately tests our capacity to read it as it continually deconstructs the very guideposts to which we cling--in vain. The theme of this "fictive 'diary' / this excerpts from the unwritten poem" is the poet's encounter with the "other"--and particularly the other as woman: goddess, mother, pop star, "the terrible mix up of girl friends / wives lovers and cancer patients." Yet this is like no love poem in the history of literature. The idea of the "beloved" is still another guidepost which the poem finally removes from us. In its incredible swirl of sexuality, erudition, and massive longing, Argüelles' poetry asks the reader again and again, "Do you think you have an ego? Try this." We have no categories to describe such a work other than to call it an "chaos"--which it both is and isn't. If we don't "have" an ego, what do we "have"? Only an amazing language which simultaneously attracts us and betrays us at every possible moment: not a "woman" but the infinite nothingness which saturates language, as words mean and fail to mean in an endlessly repeated dance.

--Jack Foley