RAG (Omnidawn Press) | 2014
The question of civic lyric—the possibility of a politics of mourning—runs through this book-length aria-errancy-eros. All the vectors of "rag" are at work: polemical political journal, syncopated turn-of-the-century pop song, menstrual blood, burial shroud, complaint or insult, a cloth to wipe materials with, the barest semblance of clothes, the slang word for woman. The currents of energy running beneath this rag are equally human violence and a sexual force that erupts through fragments of films, fairy tales, real-life news, novels, and memory: a father on fire, a stranger in tears, a prisoner who believes he’s a dog, women in dresses made of food or women refusing to eat, a hit-and-run, a body with no face, or a face with no skin to hang it on, girls in water, women underground. Rag spirals relentlessly forward, picking up bits of recurrent language as it goes, its narratives troubled by stutter, broken by what can’t be told.
excerpt/Author Comments from Rag
"If you’ve missed Carr’s compelling works, like 100 Notes on Violence, you owe it to yourself not to miss this one—and then you can return to the previous works. Carr’s outspoken lyricism takes us into not-so-blissful domesticity ('—from out of the wretched tide through the heat mothers pass') and, indeed, violence.
In Julie Carr’s new book, Rag, the twin towers of the American empire, fathers and husbands, fall onto the bodies of children and women. Among the normative signs of disaster that constitute everyday life, characters stumble between the privilege of a race without race-- 'To find a color in this boy you had to split him open”—and the ambiguous privilege of gender —'Made to be humiliated and to be adored.' The excavations of 'How power moves when hidden underground' demand an unflinching eye, an attentive ear. Carr moves between narrative and parataxis, prose and poetry, to delineate the violence perpetrated against women and children when the lean-to of race falls over: 'The skin is an illusion of containment…' Rag is a prophetic howl in the wilderness of modernity, a book of accusations and self-recriminations as ancient as human culpability and guilt."
"This book is a wonder — “Static on the whip of the day” — revealing the fissures and fixtures between the personal and the national, so tender, tough, and astute in its examination of these lively rags on earth it breaks and mends the heart that reads it. In these poems we know the glove and the hand, the ability and inability to move, remove, dress, redress."
"Rag is gorgeous poems, I tell you, gorge-us. I’m engorged with them, they gorge on me. Embodied, transporting, Rag is what you write on, the makings and achings of pulpy paper, and what you wear when leaking ideas and words as bodily fluids. Rag is irregular rhythm that reinvents how we hear, what we think music is. Brilliant, shardy, delicate and steel-strong, these bloodlines pierce the reader."