Catherine Wagner, Imitating

ISBN: 0-9535401-1-1 £3.50/$8.00 22 pages 2004
Leafe Press

Reviewed by Laura Steele

Catherine Wagner writes a poetry in Imitating which forms a crystal of fear, colour and a time of life drawn from life, annotations to particular days written as 'Exercises'. The distinction is several times drawn between the imitating and the not imitating, "& I knew I was imitating, because my legs could make no gestures that had not already been made", or "I needed to be alone reproducing // I wasn't imitating". Reproduction is not imitation but a dividing, and writing is the split singing, "I make the ground ripple and my head red sing", an ebullience which succeeds where some form of spectral cookery

I didn't have time not to burn myself
the trajectory of the pan too important
& I fucked it up


I was trying to
pie myself
so I would be delicious
a burning.

The crystal draws a dividing human body (dividual) into it, then emits furred lines of poetry in which a bright child-like stomp

How are you booge? Are you the booge?
I'm the booge.

continually slips into more adult emotional turmoil which may then turn out to be dreamed in a dream, "I would thank you / for embracing me / & your head, then I was pushing away on your head with my feet / into a huge bright horse I was inside of", or quickly taken up into a new thought

I danced in the back of the car
danced my feet on the roof.
What is happy.
Energy for now & for the next thing
I can be in the back of the car, it is my house
my friends live in my house
they move my house

which may remind of Spinoza's affects, before moving again into lines where the crystal – which is also a head – is breaking out in notes, "open-grated", the numbered daily 'Exercise', where things are escaping out into life, "Nothing at all in my head? In my head?", no longer imitating, while other things and routines are being caught up and pulled in to the Imitating, "one set of lines vanishes as I / rise, the other as I lower myself".

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