Daniela Olszewska to Olivia Cronk
Your book, Skin Horse, is not a collection of poems. Stay with me, for I mean this in the best possible way, I swear. Olivia, your book, Skin Horse, is not a collection of poems, but a collection of tiny + terrifying moments of language. Your writing is syntactically-enchanted, your is writing is “very fucking chainlessly on golden floors.”
Many of these tiny + terrifying moments of language you’ve crafted take great delight in costuming themselves with bits + pieces swiped from a Great-Grandmama’s poison-apple-scented chiffarobe. Skin Horse is adorned in “untrue pearl buttons,” “wing glue, sunset skirts,” “gloves with the crust of lip,” + “brushing skulled velvet/and Veronique/turned blue paper blue.” Forgive me, this is going to sound dirtier than I mean it to, but, Olivia, I enjoy playing dress up with your Skin Horse.
90% of my favorite poems/tiny + terrifying moments of language contain one or more animals. So, obviously, your book makes me kind of giddy. Most of the animals in your book strike me as poetic + genetic d/evolutions. Your work is full of albino deer, screaming squids, rooster sleeves, and electrical lemur faces. Olivia, you remind of Aase Berg at her best (or, at least, Berg at her my favorite). Like Berg, you coat your animals in skins of lustre and terror.
I am trying to think of which other poets you remind me of. Lara Glenum, for sure. And Elizabeth Treadwell. And maybe Interior With Sudden Joy-ish Brenda Shaughnessy. At some points, you frustrate me, as I feel as if you are tipping your hat to some specific scribes. For example:
I had business on that side of town I did
wish myself a basket of cut throat, I admit—
just to find the tell-quail
I heard of the trees typewritering before and those nymph-nosed.
makes me want to Google each phrase until I find the exact “source” of these images. But I sense that this a project that isn’t interested in genealogy. Skin Horse isn’t dependent on readers “catching” allusions, it’s dependent on readers’ willingness to sit back and marvel at the herd of images galloping past them.
Olivia, your tiny + terrifying moments of language incorporate motherloving multitudes. In one of my favorite sections of the book, you merge the voices of an evil veterinarian, a haunted blues musician, + a sneering debutante to give us this hard, pink gem of a piece:
Got trouble my jar of pills.
Got bells all me dead ones.
Gotta nest of woe a nest of wail.
And pardon my tied-on prom.
I got deer-injecting to do.
Cup scams to pull.
A whole basket of others.
Lovely. Just lovely. Look at that phrase “my tied-on prom.” Every time I re-read that, my brain does a happy flip.
It occurs to me that the phrase “tiny + terrifying moments of language” is a bit cumbersome. I am looking over the last page of Skin Horse and I see this phrase “word tunnel” and now I am thinking that “word tunnel” is a better description of your astonishing “non-poems”:
On a lap I dress for dinner.
I see to my old man’s tongue
caught on a tooth
just as the word tunnel
I smack it out on a leather wall.
Yes, word tunnel. I like this phrase, I’m going to steal it. Although maybe it’s not really stealing if I’m using it to describe you? It’s like breaking into someone’s house to take eggs and sugar and then using those eggs and sugar to bake that person a Congratulations on Being Awesome cake. Anyway, Olivia, your book, Skin Horse, is not a collection of poems, but a collection of word tunnels. And I’m really glad you were able to smack it out on a leather wall.
Daniela Olszewska often writes letters to the Coca-Cola Corporation urging them to bring back the beverage known as “Coke Blak.” She has a small Internet presence here: http://danielaolszewska.blogspot.com/.