by Stacy Szymaszek
January 24, 2023
7 x 7 in.
The latest work from poet STACY SZYMASZEK, author of A YEAR FROM TODAY.
In Famous Hermits, her sixth full-length poetry collection, Stacy Szymaszek departs from the annual journal form of her past three books yet still adheres to the belief that the potential for revelatory and revolutionary transformation exists in the power we have, when we claim autonomy, to organize the fabric of our day to day lives. Her New York City is present as a memory that interjects its expectations onto new Western and Southwestern landscapes that don’t recognize its logic. The concept of the famous hermit is born out of a desire to experience integrity, to not go forgotten, yet with a fierce need to separate from liberal ideas of what poetry should publicly perform. She invokes other kindred artists such as Dante, Bob Kaufman, Tina Modotti, and Jean Seberg as guides as she writes her own statements of renunciation and ultimately of middle-aged self-love.
“The poems in Famous Hermits take surface narrative and give it deep glide, that deeper dive that happens when you approach the world as your confidante. Within a few lines, Stacy Szymaszek interlaces eons worth of intricate history to galvanize a poet’s hangout — “I writhe / I am a human I think.” There is tenderness in the assimilation of being human, to write the savage heart with a poet’s restraint. In these pages, Basho meets the collective aporia — “my body takes me on a ride / I effloresce” — to enter a synesthetic space, where each allegory is its own parsed quench. Szymaszek shows her mastery of line and form by encapsulating cinematic propulsions that glint, in a flash, to then come back to our daily dialogue. Infiltrating cohesion with density, and a razor sharp wit, the poet’s “elite city” appears as a temporal embrace in the heat of a desert, an emodiment of our migratory needs. What do we hold back, that may emote us, to enter, with simultaneity, our understanding of each other—of people, of poem—where all entrances are lived, all recollected stanzas othered? This richly focused collection explores our diurnal awakenings as cognitive planes, where each grouping of text is a radial entity, a hermetic investigation of a poet’s walk.”