[It] Incandescent

from Ninebark Press

Presented as a series of visual texts, Amy Pence’s [It] Incandescent reads as an extended engagement with Emily Dickinson’s poetry, one in which the adept placement of the words on the page heightens our experience of language...Pence creates a poetics of trauma and redemption, an aesthetic predicated on building narrative, and discovering meaning, “by degrees.” In doing so, Pence shows us that as T.S. Eliot later argues, quite famously, the past is contained within the present. Here, history and modernity are conflated in even the texture of the language itself. By pairing words like “opon” with more colloquial speech, Pence shows us that history, its trauma, its silences, and its elisions are embedded within the minutia of syntax and grammar...It is perhaps for this reason that collage and assemblage become a powerful form of resistance. It is the space between things that speaks most audibly, that gestures at the multitudes of what cannot, will not, be spoken aloud.

from "The Violence of Collision: Notes on Collage, Precarity & the Archive"  by Kristina Marie Darling on Green Mountains Review 

Amy Pence takes Emily Dickinson’s words – prose and poetry – and sinks them deep into the flesh of her own poems. A nineteenth century spinster meets a modern-day single mother. Words that might have sounded archaic or arch in Emily’s mouth, come unstitched in Pence’s hands.

from "Lost & Found," by Karen Kao on Shanghai Noir

...[she] performs not an imitation of Dickinson, but an inhabitation of her. The book reads as an attempt not to weld her words or her experiences to Dickinson’s, but to sister her: to mend her loneliness without trespassing on her solitude, without filching her greatness.

from "Whatever it is, Incandescent..."  by Katharine Coldiron on The Bind

But what is [IT]?


[It] Incandescent puts us on the path near Emily Dickinson’s home, and in a timeless Amherst, Massachusetts where we embark on a multi-layered journey:  poems written by a fictional narrator are interceded by details from Emily’s life as well as the tragic story that propels the narrator to a stunning, yet indeterminate, conclusion. What was Dickinson’s “secret” and how does the experience of trauma infect what we cannot fathom? In this truly sui generis book, fact, fiction, and poetry blend, reminding us that what’s at stake whenever we try to uncover the truth of someone’s life, especially Emily Dickinson’s, is a complex and marvelous tissue of narratives and psychologies.

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© 2020 by Amy Pence

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