Read Conduit by Khadijah Queen Free Online
Book Title: Conduit|
The author of the book: Khadijah Queen
ISBN 13: 9781933354514
Edition: Akashic Books
Date of issue: June 1st 2008
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 359 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.5
Read full description of the books:
First- I should say that I know the author, and I admit to being favorably inclined to her work and to some bias.
One will want to reread these poems, particularly the first section. I was very intimidated at first take. Lines are careful, which I like, and clipped, right where you might want something more expository to feel like you had a better formulation of meaning. The opening poem, "Four Suggestions" is precisely the sort of poem (as it is a longer offering and in four parts) that it isn't fair to excerpt from to illustrate a point, but here goes, from part iii:
Shaken by lack of disturbance
Winking their mysterious processes,
How we do know we work--
Why guard?) Be conquered.
I found in rereading that I felt I understood the poems better if viewed from the perspective of a relationship, one that was sexual (?)"did we create?/Uneven theft, a likely/wave.../With a body willing to lie still on the surf, to be covered/only in what waves will carry..." Personally, the only thing I am so circumspect about is something personal, someone cherished, something intimate and sexual and hard to talk about...
Water, fruit, fertility is ever present in this opening section- from “Distance as the Root of Olive Trees”, which seems to speak of lives lived in proximity to an olive grove, this image:
One root cannot seem to rest next to another; like meek
Alluvial women, traveling between their work of knowing and
I am such a boy, but I loved this scene, from the section in “Distance” headed “/7:19 am/
…in these ancient groves:
All the shadows you’ve ever meant to cast.
You would prefer to collect them
Standing at a window the length of a wall,
While white curtains inhale
The breeze, then exhale onto your bare thighs.
This section entitled –Cultivar- stands out, in “Distance”:
Above the bony talus, gnarled branches drip ripe
Green drupe, unpicked.
You watch strays lap the sour, swallow.
Inviting healing, cut figs
On your table tonight, pale-sweet,
Become wished fruit, a provocation.
These lines are provocations. I loved the long slow look the poet takes at this scene. (I was glad to have my dictionary available on the phone for “talus” and drupe, too.)
From /4:24 p.m./, a section in “Distance” (uniquely named, like many of the section headings in the book:)
The strings of your muscles thrum
A song tattooed in your inky throat.
An unexpected sequence, like abandonment
Into the shadow of a cheekbone,
The gut of a lock…
A way to make an overturned bowl of the sky.
I am not sure that I’m ever able to tie together the vignettes in the three poems the way the poet might wish a reader to, but I enjoyed particular parts of these episodes.
Section 2, “Oferendas Rojas” turns to Mayan and Mexican history and architecture, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) holiday and the rituals surrounding it. Here, I confess to struggling through the reading. I did not realize until I was over half way through the section that the poet had provided a reference page in back for words like “Mictlan” (the Aztec underworld) and “cempoalxochitl” (marigold) and “calaca” (skill/skeleton commonly used as decoration during Dia de los Muertos). From Flood:
Take divided blooms,
Sew them in a bustled
Dress, wear it to Mictlan,
Petals dancing at your feet
Eat nothing but rosquete hojaldra
Bread to swell the vacant belly
Embrace calaca with a fervent tongue,
Like Chalchiuitlicue receive
The flood wide open-
I was always stopping to look up the words on my phone until I discovered the reference page. Sometimes it helps to read things aloud but not knowing how to pronounce the words, and then pausing to look them up, made it a stop-and-go proposition that made the poems hard to consider as a whole in both an thematic, and especially an aural, sense.
My favorite poem in the collection was “Prolix”, from the books final section, where we find this beautiful opening to grab the attention:
The mouth, above all things, knows how to smother.
It might’ve been a poem unto itself.
Later the mouth is
…a failed schemata of inlets.
A grate full
Of graffito. Indelicate
Mouth , prone to extractive
To condemn, to ease into liminal withholding,
Uncheked breath in each syllable falling toward decay.
To my religious ear, the poem echoed Proverbs 18:21 (Death and life are in the power of the tongue…) and James 3:8 ( But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.)
The poem “Suspension Tactics” is one I’d like to get other readers’ takes on…I read it as a subtle critique of religion and its adherents, of a particular idea of God, an inert, impersonal version. It begins
Your god was a god that waited…
Praised for attending the isolato, a god
You breathed a certain love into…
Every day see yourself without…
Each shamed part of you
That never surrenders.
Wait for signs of return…
Find a way to dream him
Out of unconscious manipulations...
A prized emblem
Sans rules and measures
Torn form the plush
Altar of someone else’s future god,
A decadent totem
Poised for the stirring of small miracles.
(isolato-an isolated person/entity).
And then, a pivot, which feels like a “you should know better:”
An expert in such things,
You don’t believe in escape…
Stand on a bed of cloud, a sky of this…
Engage in accidental acts of rapture…
This felt like an admonishion. Set aside your laboring toward being swept up to the heavens, your affinity for the clouds, embrace this life on this earth, shun theistic escapism (?)
In Conduit Queen uses white space and the whole page for line placement. It is not linear, straight down the page stuff, and perhaps this mirrors a resistance to allow us linear, straight down the page meaning. The meditative tone of the work isn’t one that is always easy to share with the poet- there are scenes in her mind that she seems to want to only limn and not out-and-out depict w/ too much certainty. I admit that I like my veils drawn back a bit further-, but I see so much poetry and beauty in these lines that I am eager to see how she has developed between Conduit and Black Peculiar, her newest offering.
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Read information about the authorKhadijah Queen is the author of five books, most recently I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On, a finalist for the National Poetry Series and published by YesYes Books in March 2017. Her verse play Non-Sequitur (Litmus Press 2015) won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers, and was produced by theater company The Relationship in New York City in 2015. Poems and prose appear in Fence, Tin House, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Buzzfeed, Hyperallergic, Memoir, The Force of What's Possible, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and widely in other journals and anthologies. She serves as core faculty in poetry for the Mile-High MFA program at Regis University.
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