Book Reviews by John M. Bennett


Book Review
by John M. Bennett


The Case of the Lost Objective (Case)
by Sheila E. Murphy
Otoliths 2007


This elegantly produced book underscores the great variety of styles and approaches Murphy has been developing in her work, and has some stunning examples of these. It

includes a generous number of her full-color visual poems, a genre she has been working in for several years now. The placement of these visual poems is often extremely appropriate, and enriches the textual poem that precedes it (and vice versa). For example, the poem “Ann Arbor” has many phrases beginning with the word “my” (“my mother,” “my hands,” etc.) and is followed by a visual poem, “My Orchids,” that takes this sequence in the poem to a new place. It is really a continuation of the poem, and very graphically represents the fact that much of Murphy’s work is interconnected and continuous; not merely a collection of isolated poems.

'The Case of the Lost Objective (Case)' by Sheila E. Murphy
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The variety I referred to includes such Fluxus-like works as “a framework for infinite neglect,” which consists of two columns of the repeated words “look” and “kool,” experiments with typography and fonts, normal text poems, anaphoric poems, prose poems, and more.

Among the prose-like pieces is the title poem, a sequence of 15 passages that plays thoughtfully with one idea after another, from “Infinity’s a cataract,” to the ending, which consists of one of her characteristic (and wonderful) multiplicities-of-consciousness or cubist acrobatic statements, “the safest sauce remains tomato-based, as if to mimic inner issues kept astride the heartland of a nation state one ought to itemize.”

This is a standout work in the Sheila E. Murphy canon; you can’t go wrong acquiring it. And while you’re at it, check out some of the other excellent titles in the Otoliths catalog!

Sheila E. Murphy
Sheila E. Murphy's most recent full-length books include The Case of the Lost Objective (Case) (Otoliths Press, 2007) and Continuations, with Douglas Barbour (The University of Alberta Press, 2006).

Related Links:
Sheila Murphy’s Wikipedia entry

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