Book 5: Sawako Nakayasu

When I was in college, I borrowed Texture Notes by Sawako Nakayasu from a friend who had been assigned to read it for a poetry class. The book completely blew my mind and I find myself returning to it again, over and over.  Since it was printed on a small press and I’m not sure how many people have read it, I wanted to highlight this book. 

Texture Notes is a series of poems that Nakayasu wrote over a period of a year.  The work is phenomenal and challenges the genre of poetry and non fiction. Caryl Pagel wrote that Texture Notes is “a study of feelings,” which is exactly what the book is.  Nakayasu writes in an incredibly clinical voice and sets off to break down feelings and day to day events by describing the texture of the event and moment.  In the book she explores the textures of “a field of fried umbrellas,” “being swallowed by an avalanche of undercooked hamburger meat,” “a pile, a layering, a gathering of more than one kind of trust,” “ant-sized things,” and “yje spimd pf yje wrong band warming up.”  

one of her poems (10/4/2003) is this:

“Layers and layers of loss.”

That’s the whole poem. In the book, the poem hit me incredibly hard in the stomach, and made me have to put the book down for a bit.  It was so simple, but I loved the way that she just let the grief sit there on the emptiness of the page and could sum up what she was saying so beautifully in just a few words. 

This book is wonderful.  Its use of the clinical to talk about feelings is brilliant and unexpected, and I suggest you all read it.

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