This Is Why I Hurt You: A Brief Post on Kate Greenstreet

Kate Greenstreet
This Is Why I Hurt You, Lamehouse 2008

Greenstreet’s little chapbook fell out from a pile of books on my desk marked “for review.” It’s a big pile and hers is a little book, even as chapbooks go. It’s hand stitched, not overly so, and the paper is functional. A bold clear font announces the title. The book starts with a quote from Walker Evans, which makes sense since Greenstreet is first of all, a visual artist. “It’s logical to say that what I do is an act of faith. It came to me. And I worked it out.”

This is in fact a perfect clue to the reader in how to approach Greenstreet, who has two other excellent books under her belt. She reminds me of Erin Moure, the way she will stop and stare at her feet so to speak, in the middle of a poem. But the middle of the poem, the staring, actually become the poem itself. You think you’re on your way and then you realize you’re there. In it.

The first section has a series of statements in quotes:

“It makes me feel that being human is a good thing. Being human–and even just being the way I am–I’m not completely alone.”

and later “I guess. I guess it makes me feel like we’re all okay somehow.” [starts to cry]

“How does poetry cause that feeling?”

“I don’t know.”

This small book manages to be several things at once: a journey, a meditation, an inquiry, a mystery, a document looking at its shoes.

I feel for the lamp and it’s gone. Black is missing.
The red has a point but no lead.

Anis Shivani might have a hard time appreciating this little text. I don’t. It’s associative. It relies on your store house of images. Reaches inside, or melds with the reader’s hard drive, ticking new connections at a pleasing pace. If perhaps you don’t have the same imagery stored in your head as Greenstreet does, you can make your own connections.

You can approach it like you approached Twin Peaks. In the end it didn’t really matter how the thread went did it. Or it did. Still, you sat on the same sofa, watching.

 When I think of people, I always think of you.
A drive, a death, a conversation.

I do want to piece things together. I do want to think of you, and know you, dear reader, dear poet. The seams are in order. They proceed quite logically toward a moment of staring at my shoes. Or maybe yours, as the word turns. “I would alter little things in everybody’s story,” Greenstreet’s penultimate line warns. Then “These are all the questions I have.”

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