NETS by Jen Bervin
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Nets in Web Conjunctions
I stripped Shakespeare's sonnets bare to the "nets" to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible—a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest.
RESPONSES TO NETS
" . . . Jen Bervin has reimagined Shakespeare as our true contemporary. Her little poems sing."
— Paul Auster
“Nets arrived today and I have been drifting through it all day. I say "drifting" because it encourages a kind of drifting or floating attention that I associate with looking at cloud studies or with dreaming. It was strange, too, because I was just reading a book called *Veils,* a collaboration between Cixous and Derrida—and then your book of veils / nets arrived. I love the way some words/phrases seem to band together while others seem to meet or miss each other across vast distances (who knew the sonnets covered so much ground!). There is such a poignancy here—or maybe a plangency—that comes from your vision of the words as so tenuously connected. They seem to be on a long and uncertain journey. In your 21st century Shakespeare, the difficulty of communication—the possibility that souls never touch—is beautifully delineated. I have been focusing primarily on the bolded text, and yet the unbolded text is also there in my reading—sometimes as merely a sound blur, the rush in the mind of words that never find their way—articulate—into our voices. These words seem further away—in time and space—they seem to come from a dictionary almost bled white. But they exert a tremendous power—and while at first I thought they were quiet, later they seemed to be roaring. And those that arise in bold out of them almost seem to be escaping something.”
The Believer 3:9 (November 2005). “The Lost Symphony.” (Paul Collins)
“Nets has the strange feel of verbal topography: the original sonnet text is a sort of plain that single, select words soar up from like jagged spires.”
American Book Review 26:2 (January/February 2005). “The Sonnets of William Shakespeare.” (Jocelyn Emerson)
“Bervin shows us ways in which we might open up pre- or over-determined uses of past structures without erasing them—making the poems all the more complex by their refusal to dislocate. Her Nets is context responsive and responsible, without the knot of lyric-envy and linguistic guilt of many contemporary poems that pillage the past for strangeness, or worse, for an energetic imagination that might impersonate the writer’s.”
Frontlist Books Seminary Coop Bookstore, University of Chicago (Summer 2004).
"The results of Bervin’s mining of the sonnets are alternatively haunting, surprising, and prescient in their reductions of the originals. While many fragments incisively refer back to the process of distilling meaning, Bervin finds words that speak to the present. Thus, in Sonnet 64, Bervin evokes the collapse of the World Trade Center, “I have seen/towers down-razed/loss loss.” Nets is a compelling, inventive, and quietly startling new work.”
The Village Voice (May 28, 2004). “The Connections: A Selective History of Instant Inspiration.” (Ed Park)
Jacket 25 (February 2004). “Phillip Metres reviews Nets by Jen Bervin.” (Philip Metres)
“…Bervin’s text breaks the urns of the sonnets into their fragmented parts, thus rendering the ghostly whole wholly ghostly.”