Saturday, February 10, 2018



(The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, Newton-le-Willows, U.K., 2018)

Oooomph. As the saying goes to paraphrase itself: got me at the first page! Julie Rose Lewis’ opening poem to her PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE FERAL displays the charismatic lineation of phenomenology of, in this case, the “feral” though I wasn’t yet sure of what that meant after reading just one poem. But I did know to admire—relish like a juicy pear, indeed, per 2nd line below—the seemingly effortless moves from abstraction-turned-metal (“pewter”) to the distinct specificity of an object (“bottle of pills”), swiftly-but-again-effortlessly followed—mirrored!—by the distinct shaping of an emotion. All this in the first two lines:

Out of the pewter, I handed over my bottle of pills.
Longing is pyriform.

Here’s the entire poem—

(click on all images to enlarge)  

—which impresses—and sings—with the pleasingly fresh evocations (“lines appeared clearly like the winter coat for horses are cold”) to the deft making-of-solidity from the theoretical (“transparency versus opacity in therapy and poetry and butter”) to music (“I want to feed you a pear, slice by slice, you see a peer really?”). In sum, the poet shows wonderful technique that befits phenomenology. This excerpt from “Too White to Photograph” even hearkens, for me, that poet-master of phenomenology, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (its swerves, that is, not  (all of its) diction):

An orgasm is like a refrigerator found on the side of the road,
the water on white blinds.

This is my refraction,
my change in direction a propagation of a wave.

But what’s with the “feral?” Answers are likely from the book’s second section entitled with the book title, I thought before reading the section. And as I then read and after I finished the section, I relish-swallowed Lewis’ various permutations. Here’s one of many favorites:

Phenomenology of the Feral VII

the gutter and drains
raindrops were inside us
lust, dust, must the mould

Isn’t that fantastic?! Here’s a longer one, one of the few in the section whose title does not begin with “Phenomenology of the Feral”:

Again, so fantastic that I want to post another example for not just you, Reader, but me to relish:

FERAL (my notes say): “the edge, over which darkness. nervousness. Nerve.  Anxiety. It’s being attuned to the nerves—nerve endings—but why the darkness/discomfort? Specifically because of (its) multiplicity. There is a lot in categories of nothing.”  As I come to these notes weeks after I made them in the heat of reading through Lewis’ book, I’m not sure now as I finish this review how to transcribe. But I’ll leave it at that—I suspect the unstable comes with feral, after all.

What I can say is that Lewis’ collection is an utterly satisfying read. I close the book with an immense and paradoxical sense of comfort: from the darkness, what the poet excavated gleams.


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea Resurrects (GR)She loves books and has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her 2018 poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago and MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator. She is the inventor of the poetry form “hay(na)ku” which will be the focus of a 15-year anniversary celebration at the San Francisco Public Library in 2018. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.comShe is pleased to direct you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION (MDR) was reviewed by Joey Madia for Literary Aficionado and New Mystics ReviewsMDR was reviewed by Grady Harp for Goodreads and, as an Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer, for AmazonMDR received an engagement by Leny M. Strobel; and MAKING NATIONAL POETRY MONTH GREAT AGAIN! was reviewed by Neal Leadbeater for The FilAm Magazine. She does not allow her publications to be reviewed in GR as she is its editor, except for when the review involves other authors, as is the case of a review of MARAWI (co-authored with Albert E. Alejo and with translations by Aileen Cassinetto) by Neal Leadbeater in this GR February issue.