2007 • 52 pp. • $12.00
“And in this square plot the narrative of my rocking,” Susan Landers says in Covers, and through the rocky fields and layers of Dante’s Inferno weaves a narrative of our time. The B side of Dante’s landscapes of phantasmagoric distress is our post September 11 world, the sinful, mass/ive fury of its unleashed power gaining us a place in Dante’s Hell. Susan Landers knows that in any translation of true resonance, as much as bringing the other to us—to our own size and illusions—the translator takes our language to the icy, sublime, thirsty, nether region of the other. The result is a fully lit, but dimly understood landscape where fragments of language put us—the reader—right in the middle as one of Dante’s sinners, suffering the endless stings of the serpent’s tail, without quite seeing that the head of this dragon is ourselves, “Within this dismal din/ ran men naked and raw// with no heliotrope-hope./ Snakes tied men’s hands stiff/ behind and poked their ends/ through the front for bows” Covers shows how translation is the most dynamic poetic form of our time. A poem of power, intelligence and beauty.
“Encounters with the grand tradition of literary versionings of Hell yield in Landers’ Covers an agonistic sequence of lyrics, one that wickedly ‘plays the structure’ of the American empire’s reality-making in polyphonic protest.”
“Covers is a tour de translation that brings Danteup to speed with the 21st century. Deftly shifting registers between Inferno-speak and news-speak, Susan Landers antes up a resolute refusal to refract the rapture of the “blood shuffle” aftermath. Indeed, “the audacity dragon has a daddy complex.” But in this “woe song sung” Landers offers us poetic remixes that quietly inscribe a sense of community, pressing us forward toward ethical remuneration.”
Susan Landers is the author of 15: A Poetic Engagement with the Chicago Manual of Style (Least Weasel), COVERS (O Books) and 248 MGS., A PANIC PICNIC (O Books). She was the founder and co-editor of Pom2, a journal of poetic polylogue. Recent poems have appeared in Try Magazine and on the blog Elective Affinities. She lives in Brooklyn.