Must a Violence

Overview

Oni Buchanan explores the problem of violence against the undefended, elemental self through a variety of emotional and linguistic responses. The violation itself is unspecified but involves the forced transformation from an instinctual, animal self, housed in the body and in the senses, into a socialized, time-based “citizen,” familiar with death, decay, and systemic injustice.

 

This exploration plays out through the twin challenges of perception and compassion. ...

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Overview

Oni Buchanan explores the problem of violence against the undefended, elemental self through a variety of emotional and linguistic responses. The violation itself is unspecified but involves the forced transformation from an instinctual, animal self, housed in the body and in the senses, into a socialized, time-based “citizen,” familiar with death, decay, and systemic injustice.

 

This exploration plays out through the twin challenges of perception and compassion. Perception can bind us to the known world or cut us loose in dangerous, horrific territory. Compassion for other creatures (wild or domesticated, and sometimes both) is born of perception, of the hard limits and surprising insights encountered by attending to the bodies, gestures, and plights of others.

 

In Must a Violence, the tones and personalities vary widely but trust is always placed in the five senses. These poems gather and relay extraordinary sense data, from inaudible sounds to long-absent smells. These deeply musical poems demand the reader attend to their sounds: to the waveforms, repetitions, durations, and delicate interrelationships of words.

 

In sounding out the problem of how to respond to violence and to the betrayal and domestication of that which is wild, this book counters with aesthetic violence and disruption of its own, opening the self to the unexpected powers of the senses and to encounters between "wildness" and "domestication" within the self. Though never easy, this openness creates the possibility for an all-enveloping love that touches and joins all animals, both nonhuman and human. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“I can’t tell if it’s me/ or the machinery to which I am/ affixed Tiredness/ radiates from the exact/ center,” writes Oni Buchanan in her third collection. Her poems are built from simple language and infused with an often sinister imagination. “An Infection” is a blunt masterwork of creepiness: “The infection may have come/ because the hot and crowded train/ did not have properly fresh/ head napkins on its seats,” she writes. People in close quarters spread germs, travel in clumps; not so different from the way we treat animals in confined feeding operations. “If only everyone could just take care/ of themselves and take cover from the wetness and the rotting,” she laments. She questions what makes humans different from the animals we eat. Buchanan mixes shorter and longer poems, but she gains momentum, power, and volume in the extended pieces. “Little Pig” spans 16 pages and describes in second-person narrative a joy bordering on hysteria toward a pet pig. “You could run out one side/ of the house and loop/ around” Buchanan encourages the pig, then, “perpetual joy is in that loop, Little Pig!” Buchanon is an experimental poet who also manages a playful accessibility. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609381295
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Series: Kuhl House Poets Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 94
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Oni Buchanan has published two previous books of poetry, Spring and What Animal. She is a concert pianist who actively performs across the U.S. and abroad, and is the founder and director of Ariel Artists, a Boston-based management company that represents a national roster of classical and contemporary-classical musicians pursuing visionary performance projects. 

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Read an Excerpt

from “Must a Violence”

 

Must a violence be administered

Must a violence be enacted upon

Must a violence be had to oneself

Must a violence be endured

Must an unanticipated violence

Must a violence beyond one’s control

Must a modicum of violence

Must a dosage or capsule-full of violence

Must an irregularly dispensed occasional

vaccination of violence

Must a violence be inflicted upon

Must a violence first be undergone 

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