[one love affair]* by JENNY BOULLYTeresa Carmody reviews
[one love affair]* by Jenny Boully
(Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2006)
To Love: a feeling, a sense, a knowing which grows through an engagement with another who cannot be fully recognized or apprehended, for the lover and the beloved do not, à la happily-ever-after and despite Biblical injunctions, ever really become one.
To Read: a feeling, a sense, a knowing, which grows through an engagement with a text which cannot be fully recognized or apprehended, for the reader and the writer are forever, à la Wittgenstein, peering through their own self-set of eyes, and, as Jenny Boully writes, “the promise told [will] never be the promise given.”
Boully is writing about love.
Boully is writing about reading.
Boully is writing a renga of love and reading, a collaboration with the writers she is reading, incorporating their lines into this new love object, [one love affair]*, three long poems made from “the narrative that snuck in when reading various books, which are documented in subsequent footnotes.” (Boully, 17) And it’s a non-monogamous list, including: Thomas Bernhard, Marguerite Duras, Carol Maso, Gertruide Stein, and Robert Walser.
Boully’s language is accretive and lyrical. It is clear, feels clean in the mouth and sweet in the ear--the sweetness of alliteration and repetition. Yes, it is repeating, so one begins to feel there another form embedded within the prose, though not a poetic form as much as the formed outline of a lover’s body, a book one has loved, one lover in a line of lovers, lying in the same bed as the former others.
“She takes for a moment certain words and tries to decide whether or not they belong.” (Boully, 11)
Boully writes that which Vanessa Place describes as the “lyric as-is,” a lyricism of the traditionally beautiful (a moon, dogwood, violets) alongside the ordinary (soup, Sprites, tree snails), a lyricism of the ironic, yet earnest, a gesture toward transcendence, already understood to not really exist.
In my position, alone, in relation to someone who comes and goes, an action without end, I too drift among hermits, show crabs, pedestrians, tellers of misfortunes. I know the omen, the omen across the table who glances up occasionally to remind you that this too you will not have. He is eating his soup; he is living with you; he had not asked you to spend your life with him.
From “It’s the same old stranger as ever, for whom alone accusative I exist” (title from Beckett)
So Boully leaves us, in the end, alone and separated, meaning eclipsed by the impossibility of saying, with a spectral of sense of something though perhaps not enough feeling, except for the faithful fact of feeling.
Teresa Carmody is the author of Requiem, a collection of short stories. Other work has appeared in Fold Appropriate Text, PoetsWest, Stolen Purse, Roar, For Here or To Go, 4th Street and TrenchArt Material, and is forthcoming in Slope. She is cofounder and director of Les Figues Press, and co-curator of The Last Sunday of the Month Reading Series at the Smell in downtown Los Angeles.