Friday, February 3, 2017


Mg Roberts presents the Foreword to All Things Lose Thousands of  Times by Angela Peñaredondo
(Inlandia Institute, Riverside, CA, 2016)

Angela Peñaredondo’s All Things Lose Thousands of Times is, in reductive terms, an exploration of the transition from wakefulness to sleep traversing origin, methodology, and the limits of human knowledge through point of view and the subconscious, exploiting the chance effects and unexpected juxtapositions of image and syntax. Conjuring Pablo Neruda, Charles Baudelaire, and Marcel Marceau, Peñaredondo’s collection of poems seek to mime continental crossings, / ...another playing appears. / The back of a sofa poses as an obstruction / before it converts to a raised stage… /, where poet embodies both voyeur and flâneur with intentionality—such careful witnessing:

Tomorrow, under this humidity, your skin shall remain the same:  a trapping glow, a zinging inside a dangle of light. The grasp of a jaw upon a jaw, clicking into place like a small key into a lock. The manic of thighs. The inside of our mouths bruised and tongue, a hidden forager for flesh all sizes—just the same. Arch and pull of what is already broken, the only forgiveness I ask. Let belief be this.

Reading Peñaredondo’s experiments in All Things Lose Thousands of Times, I can’t help but think of the ways “identity and subjectivity are formed within a net of cultures, not just one,” (x) speaking to the truisms of mythos and mettle, those places where the unexpected peripheral repositions itself. Sites serve as gestures that reach toward “development” and or “civility” as seen through a canonical lens and the complications that arise from spiritual want and the bodily desire of the poet:

You think of the different countries now washed
over by rain,
very well,
they tell you under fractions of sky,
because they’ve watched all things lose
thousands and thousands of times.

Such longing and omission conflates the edges of—everything is connected as bodily boundaries are muddled by notions of return:

I didn’t go back to reawaken or recover
the relics, nor puzzle
what I’d become…
or ask the particulars of…
When a tree falls, its roots
aim jagged, pointing
in all directions…

Peñaredondo courts spiritual perplexity in proximity to contemporary discourses grounded in female, brown, queer landscapes where the improvement of the aesthetic appearance occurs through/by the changing of its contours, through the addition and subtraction of ornamental features, / …altars never wonder... / tell me the incantations for this kind shedding. Offering a poetic aesthetic that gestures to larger conversations: what is it to be a queer, brown woman dispossessed by a faith whose God refuses you? What is the signature, abutting edge, stitch that destabilizes notions of this construct?

...and yes, surprise!
Even women betray each other
for contour,
for beauty,
for burn again.

How to negotiate the cultural and historical as locus—ions in the air acting as drops of mist refracting light—on these larger questions? All Things Lose Thousands of Times bridges poetry and the social/cultural world as a reverberation of neorealist and surrealist points of view, where the materiality of a body, as a context, grows larger than the poet as self. These poems palpitate underneath the personal, familial, national, racial, and notions of gender as a means to formulate a rhetoric, “that celebrates and returns again and again to the invisible space of the pocket, its lint. The viscera of the pouch where the forgotten and the discarded collect…” (93). A language of investigation and sight emerges in Peñaredondo’s collection, Now if only you could scrub / yourself clean but there is no lye / strong enough for this skin.

Mg Roberts, Author of not so, sea (Durga Press)

Myung Mi Kim, “Thirty and Five Books,” Dura (New York: Nightboat Books, 2008).

Mg Roberts. Afterword. Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets. Ed. Timothy Yu. (Berkeley: Kelsey Street Press, 2015), 93.

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