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Must a Violence
     

Must a Violence

by Oni Buchanan
 

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,

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. 

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.)
From the Publisher

"Oni Buchanan’s startling new collection stages the sacred, violent, and beautiful encounter between the human and the animal, each wild, domesticated, caged, terrified, and liberated. These wondrously inflamed poems recall the eerie worlds of early Plath, yet the pleading, enraged, but ultimately tender voice is entirely Buchanan’s."—Thomas Heise, associate professor of English, McGill University 

"There is a road that winds from Buchanan’s masterful, animal ear to her strange and magnificent heart that is unlike any road ever traveled. It is the road the most fragile creatures—Violence and Mourning—take to bring themselves home. They are the ones who must most be, because it is they who mark our cry to exist and our hide from extinction. Buchanan is my favorite species of poet: the rarest of the real."—Sabrina Orah Mark, author, The Babies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609381295
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
10/01/2012
Series:
Kuhl House Poets Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
94
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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 

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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