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Little Arias
Kristen Case

First Book

New Issues Poetry & Prose
2016 • 81 pp. 6 x 8 1/2"

$15.00 Paperback, 978-1-936970-37-7

“Hypomnema is a Greek word for which there is no equivalent in English, commonly translated as “note” or even “notebook. For Michel Foucault, and for Kristen Case, hyponemata is a... [continued in Reviews below]”—Dean Rader, Kenyon Review

Reviews / Endorsements

“Hypomnema is a Greek word for which there is no equivalent in English, commonly translated as “note” or even “notebook. For Michel Foucault, and for Kristen Case, hyponemata is a “material record of things read, heard, or thought” to help “establish a relationship of oneself with oneself.” While only the final section of Case’s beguiling Little Arias bears the title “Hypomnema,” the concept serves as an ordering principle for the entire collection; itself a recording of quotes, ideas, observations, and exercises the poet has assembled to help bring the self into right relation with language, knowledge, the world, and perhaps most elusively, the self itself.

Divided into six dissimilar but related sections,
Little Arias, simultaneously draws on and problematizes the linguistic roots of aria. On one hand Case’s tight poems (almost always delivered in the first person) do feel like small songs sung inwardly and quietly between the symbol crashes of the wide world and its chorus of voices. However, where operatic arias are all about the solo, Case prefers the duo. Her arias enter into conversation with philosophers, writers, children, and most often, memory. Memory is both self and not-self, both voice and not-voice; and yet, as poets, we re-make it all the time. Case explores this concept masterfully in the elegantly haunting “Miscarriage” and “Being with One Absent.” But she is at her best when mixing memory and influence in the quote-inspired segment of twelve poems, entitled “Twelve Sentences.”

Austere and loving, monistic and dialogic, the poems of
Little Arias are more than mere songs, they are recordings designed to endure.”—Dean Rader, Kenyon Review

“Kristen Case is one of my favorite writers, and one of the writers whose work I most wish were my own. Her poems shimmer with an intelligence that is generous and welcoming, an intelligence formed in the encounter of the word and the world. Through Case’s steady and detailed observation of thought, of the processes by which thought becomes language, of language itself, and of the world in which thinking happens, the intersections of ‘the unfolding that is called myself or my body and the unfolding called a sentence’ are offered to the reader. Case’s language is prismatic; it takes simple-seeming substances, like light, and transforms them into multiples and densities and volumes. Her poems are charged with the precision of attentive looking and of longing; after reading them, I am left with the feeling of a stunned audience just before an ovation.”—Éireann Lorsung


Winner of the Maine Book Award (2016)

KRISTEN CASE is the author of the critical study American Pragmatism and Poetic Practice: Crosscurrents from Emerson to Susan Howe (Camden House, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Chelsea, The Brooklyn Review, Pleiades, Saint Ann’s Review, The Iowa Review, Wave Composition, and Eleven Eleven. Her chapbook, Temple, was published by MIEL Books in 2014. She is the editor of The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies and co-editor of Thoreau at Two-Hundred: Essays and Reassessments, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. She has published several articles on Thoreau, and has also written on Pound, Frost, Stevens, and others. She lives in Temple, Maine and teaches American literature at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:37:06 -0500