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Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven

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Poetry. In THE EMPTY FORM GOES ALL THE WAY TO HEAVEN, Brian Teare explores paradox. Teachers are sought and rejected (the Buddha, Christian thinkers, an Abstract Expressionist painter); illness is at once personless violence and a means of perfection; the body, both physical and a nostalgic memory from the days before sickness. There is also heaven itself: something Agnes Martin's Buddhist readings would insist is possible and current on earth, but a notion that the sufferer ruptures by existing. The space of the hospital--designed to be as utilitarian and perfect as graph paper, filled however with blood tests, nausea, vomiting, weeping--becomes a palpable hell. Teare's title is in this way wishful thinking, a goal prayed for: perhaps the form of the body, emptied of the illness that entered it uninvited, can attain heaven, though altered by messy suffering. Indeed, the calmed body may be a new object entirely, as void as it is beautifully scarred by its new understanding: form empties itself / on its way to heaven.

Titled with Agnes Martin's singularly flowing lines, these poems weave phrases from writers as rangy as Larry Eigner and Rosalind Krauss, Antonio Damasio and Maurice Blanchot together with an evolving examination of the immediate experience of illness and pain. In THE EMPTY FORM GOES ALL THE WAY TO HEAVEN, a kind of stillness gradually builds through these carefully-shaped pieces, a distilled poise in which one comes to hear Agnes Martin as one simultaneously sees the Zen koan that the collection itself slowly, precisely forms.--Cole Swensen

To live we must bring perception and proprioception into alignment; outer and inner must correspond. Disease threatens this correspondence. Teare, struggling with illness, searches for lost balance through an intense engagement with the painting of Agnes Martin. These achingly beautiful poems demonstrate the ways that, as Dickinson puts it, 'After great pain, a formal feeling comes.'--Rae Armantrout

After centuries of poets and painters collaborating comes this very different and remarkable integration of artistic forces. Brian Teare placed his body and poems into the Agnes Martin grid for a holistic magic that, as he writes, 'I couldn't tell / until I held it' and we feel all the unloved places of our world rise up with him. It is rare to bear such change with the poet. Do not pass by this book without grabbing it.--CAConrad

Publisher: Ahsahta Press
Pub date: September 01, 2015
98 pages
Format: Paperback