November 2, 2023
Our history begins with the present, a gap, “the ‘spread,'” the gate that won’t fully shut. The lacuna isn’t to be filled with presence but lets rage sing the poems in EtC. Laura Mullen plays with citation and reliability, with versions of history and memory, and with the libidinal energy of remembering not encased in individual experience but residing in language: our Cow [Memory] Palace. “Milk milk milk milkmilkmilk.” Or, simply: “eeeeeee.” With vocal cords opened by a cry of vowels—that phoneme that most directly reaches the gods—Mullen releases poems that embody the poem’s more impossible forms and functions.
Laura Mullen’s EtC is a furiously, gloriously comic jeremiad amid the darkness that envelops American society. This is a book that refuses to behave as it turns from comedy to lament and from lament to frustration. With lines torqued like a bow, these poems are arrows of social resistance.
Astounding leaps of imagination. These poems will change your mind.
At a time when the US Empire’s salvage operations are acting out through battered cultural landscapes, there’s a paucity of poets able to detect (let alone withstand) Empire’s covert inducements in their own writing. Laura Mullen is not only one of the best decoders of ideological traps that I know of, but also a master creator of liminal subjectivities that are already imagining alternate futures. In EtC, the surveillance mechanisms of gender, sex, corporate power, and militarism are deftly identified and outmaneuvered via Mullen’s passionate genre-edging poetics.