Toxicon And Arachne – poems – Joyelle McSweeney

Toxicon And Arachne
poems, Joyelle McSweeney
Nightboat Books, 2020

Of course, being a weak writer, I want to say rare. I want to say rare in as few words as possible in the direction of Joyelle McSweeney’s Toxicon And Arachne. Somewhere two toothaches are perhaps reunited. Somewhere one is unpinned from the world while feeling in the dark for a donkey born without a tail. I also want to say playful, but no. Sadness loses all its money to sorrow and there is a jovial genius to the trauma of wordplay. I think what McSweeney does is done with what I’ll call, in my lack, the endangered available. Mouth of a gift hearse. Erasure’s only prediction. From such given, McSweeney recreates addendum without precedent. Think of what one hasn’t read, that is being written, and how briefly it will exist unwitnessed. And how fast the work of de-witness. And how suddenly we’re having the dream that just recently we lied about having. I love this work for its slowness, for the uninfluenced offhand of its disruptive healing. Here is a line from McSweeney’s poem PT Cruiser: ‘That’s like, harmonic. Monstrous.’ I am injected, I guess, to vaccinate the new you. Loss has two syllables: loss, comma, loss. The verse of Toxicon and Arachne lives in the present and in the present it took.


reflection by Barton Smock


book is here


4 thoughts on “Toxicon And Arachne – poems – Joyelle McSweeney

  1. Barton, your reflections are always so soulful and multidimensional. Your capacity to apprehend “jovial genius” (that is neither sadness nor glee, but something other and richer, more human, for it) in the context of trauma is why I look to you for insight into this poetry thing we find ourselves doing, often despite ourselves…

    Liked by 1 person

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