A review of
Incarnate: Story Material
by Thalia Field
Thalia Field’s Incarnate: Story Material is comprised of fourteen texts differing markedly in voice, style and genre, yet it coheres internally through thematic recursions and aesthetic inventiveness throughout. In the poem “Autocartography,” Field has searched her proper name on the web and “found herself” elsewhere, discovering alter-egos in all manner of “thalia fields and related sites.” Woven throughout the poem is the story of Comanche captive Cynthia Anne Parker, as well as percussive directives—Make a Rain of This, Make a Dwelling, Make a Hunt, Make a Video Game—which read as both playful invitations and pedagogical assignments. (Field is a professor and a practitioner of page performance. Among other things she teaches a class on page-as-proscenium called “Performance Dimensions of Text” at Brown University.) In “Flickering,” a swarm of parentheses surface like newts or water insects encircling and splitting off from each other. The haunting title poem “Incarnate,” defines hell as prison. The numerology of suffering and abjection is figured: 44,435,556 are the number of demons in hell—more than the number of humans incarcerated on earth: approximately eight million.
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—Miranda F. Mellis