Chapbook Review: Dream-Clung, Gone

Dream-Clung, Gone
Written by Lauren Russell
Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012
ISBN 9781936767120

Lauren Russell’s Dream-Clung, Gone spends many of its lines transporting the reader to specific instances in time, ruminating on the details and underscoring bizarre observations that still seem natural when paired with their realistic counterparts.  Her observations are uncanny and relatable—some on a general level and others on a region-specific level that speaks directly to New Yorkers.  But the dreamscape of Lauren Russell’s Dream-Clung, Goneisn’t one of flowery ostentation; her tone is grungy, and her word choice flirts with the vernacular.  She uses lean images, opting for a swift uppercut of quick images rather than a drawn-out ballet fit only for a sesquipedalian.

Dream-Clung Gone

Some of Russell’s images are deliberately caught in the haze typical of post-dream remembrance, solidified as a theme early on with her poem “Fame,” wherein the speaker proclaims “Fame is to wake up and find your dream transcribed on Wikipedia.”  The poem continues to circle this hilarious thought, but her levity becomes stoic at the end, as the dreamer’s remembrance destroys its own core: “In the dream called Fame, there are a hundred and nine contributors. / If the dreamer weights in, it is always at the risk of awaking.— / OneHundredandTen 15:34, 11 Apr 2011 (UTC)”  And thus the poem ends, characteristic of Russell’s style: both witty and mundane, fun and bleak.

Other poems talk—or shout—at other recognizable moments from the life of every poet, or dreamer, or human being.  As aforementioned, you won’t find flowery bits with their lofty venerations: the other poems range from a clever look at the lover as “artifact,” to complaints about supposed-smooth-talking guys on the subway, to a prose poem that plumbs the depths of what black coffee can teach us about personality.

Lauren Russell has an eye for life; she sees little things throughout New York, finds their beating, oozy, sticky hearts, and renders them crisply.  Dream-Clung, Gone isn’t overdone, nor is it underdone.  Lauren Russell’s poems show us the sidewalk with as much uncommon wonder as the Ben Katchor’s drawings in Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, but she does it entirely with words.  Her writing provides a vivid, smart mock-up of 21st century urban life, complete with all its fraying edges and occasional non sequiturs.

Review by James R. Gapinski
© 2012, All Rights Reserved
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