Michael Rerick

Part : Full(way): Review of Part. Part Euphrates , by Arpine Konyalian Grenier
(NeO Pepper Press, 2007)

If a part is Part. Part Euphrates , what part is and what part isn't? All parts of the chapbook, Part. Part Euphrates , put out by Neo Pepper Press, in one sense or another come apart but are also part of a completion. Not necessarily in the narrative sense. But perhaps in the spiritually exploratory sense.

Arpine Konyalian Grenier, in the frontage, claims she is “creeping along the sidelines of rhetoric and process hoping for an outcome that transcends my ability to determine the good in it.” This is a good guide traveling through Part. Part Euphrates . What is encountered is a mad flurry, sometimes more mad than others, mad in the sense of frustration and outrage, sometimes in the sense of a mad collapsing of memory, emotion, and a vision of the world into an onslaught of images and linguistic word play. A flurry, a hurried flurry of moments passing line by line, sometimes by stanzas, sometimes within the lines themselves. Multiple visions. Yet, rather than an assemblage of disconnections, each poem, and the chapbook, cohere.

Oscillations in the mad flurry include moments of humor or lightness tinged with a certain sorrow, as in the first poem, “ Lebanon regardless) would you rather meaning or smoking??” when speaking of a relationship with a certain G that doubles for a relation with Lebanon and triples for a relation to the world: “he and girl in square dance outfits where only the beamlike is charted” (9), and “feeling wood good in and out of doors / pirated from those that cannot be / trusted with a killing / that claims none / as witness” (14). The assonance of the double “oo” woos us into a state of easiness only to be cut off, pirated away and left with the empty hands of a killer.

But Konyalian Grenier's moments of humor and lightness are spare and dark. Her work shines as it presses forward through multitudinous layers of meaning and events. This leads to much of what would be considered political in the book. In “Gatekeeper, we unthemed” the speaker dashes through meditations on all forms of political subjects from gender, politicians, to scientific discovery and technology. In one sense, then, the speaker could be part of the “we” dismantling (or, deconstructing) the political “theme” of the day that is controlled by the political gatekeepers. On the other hand, the speaker seems a bit more sinister. What is necessary for the speaker who begins, “life is good against my skin / good air prognoses” (25), is to dismantle completely the notions of the necessity of all our political violence and technological reliance, to completely make “them” “un-themed.” Yet, Konyalian Grenier's linguistic skills will not settle for clichés. In a moment that could be construed as rhetorically heavy, cliché notions are undermined and supplanted by the necessity for understanding a straying into the unknown of the knowns of the political lexicon:

decommissioning is commissioning
resources at zero not resource wars
is kicking the fossil fuel habit
not addiction but

                (addiction in terrorism
                                       one is powerless over

                           all around the sump
                                                  porcelain) habit

time has given no instructions

Here we witness the rhetoric of political reliance on nonrenewable resources (and its fallout), yet, in the end, what can we say in the face of our addiction, what is the source? Time, or history, gives no clues. It seems we are facing a wonderment of powerlessness that takes us out of history and into a new era of political irresponsibility. Yet, as the next lines imply, history moves on: “but for the recurring Euphrates / breeding its underside // there is no vision of technology / will you make room for me?” (30). There is a complex relation here. The natural, historical, political and personal all meld together and moan.

The onslaught of the linguistic, imagistic, syntactic-lexicon juxtaposed and gathered penumbra assemblage feels very much like the “smelling of loud places” (20). Or, there is a lot here to take in. But, the world as we know it is a lot to take in. Besides taking into account the shift from modernity to postmodernity aesthetics, this book bleeds the history of life, is the living history of life as Nietzsche saw living history. One cannot expect a stasis, a binding to any emotional, historical, or political gag: if one lives today in the world we live in, one can transplant any of the proper nouns in Konyalian Grenier's work and bleed their own nouns into them. In other words, Part. Part Euphrates sings as if it means to be sung for a long time, and by all of us in and out of all our modes of intellect and feeling.