My Enemies, by Jane Gregory
Jane Gregory’s My Enemies records a poet’s search for meaning in a landscape of combined and dissolving definitions. Affirming disaster and its beyond, these poems sing toward belief — a self-made belief that will not rely on any static symbol or logic or idol. Gregory’s dynamic, unpredictable enactments of the modern world avow vulnerability to a belief compatible with self-consciousness. Sometimes triumphant, sometimes overcome or self-ruinous, My Enemies never halts in its search for definition, even when it claims to not have been written—as in the serial “Book I Will Not Write” poems. Each poem here establishes a new, necessary material and mode for our uncertain world that can offer its readers something to believe in; despite forces internal and external that try to undo us, Gregory’s poems redo that undoing until “my enemies” becomes instead “my eyes many,” a new sonic way of seeing.
"When Jane Gregory speaks of ‘enemies’ she speaks of those elements that (following Valery) ravage books and people alike: fire, humidity, wild animals, time, and their own inner content. Gregory knows how to let those elementals run free in her own words, and to make a friend of their disequilibrating energy. Her work renews romanticism in the twilight of time, knowing that even the spelling of words is the spilling of everything they cannot say. Here, the poet has overwritten the multiples of her 'Book I Will Not Write’ with 'the fire in the ocean’ - with words that, reduced to their very atoms, 'in the dark: s,i,n,g.’" Andrew Joron
"Jane Gregory’s My Enemies is a collection of high-stepping verses of live wires where every phrase is a detonation of swings, breaks and pops! Thrillers 'suitable for blasting’ (viz. 'guncotton’) - pages of startling figures, near rhymes and off rhymes, psychological, philosophical, ecological myths and near myths, sci-fi and paranormal references, and the multiple 'Book[s] I Will Not Write.’ Look at the word 'struggle’ enough times in one stanza, and you suddenly see infinity, and as Baudelaire wrote, 'There is no point as sharp as that of the Infinite.’ This book is 'so gone beyond’ any you’ve ever seen." Norma Cole
"Jane Gregory seems to take seriously Robert Duncan’s claim that 'I make poetry as other men make war or make love or make states or revolutions.’ In My Enemies she lays claim to his statement on her own terms when she says 'I recognize the tongue of the wolf / before it is in the wolf’s mouth.’ Or, one might also say, she has written an adventurous first book." Peter Gizzi
Jane Gregory is from Tucson, Arizona. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently working towards a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Cover image: Guy de Cointet, "Lost at Sea,” 1975 / Performance view at Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, 14 January1975 / Performed by Virginia Farmer / Courtesy Estate Guy de Cointet / Air de Paris, Paris / Photo © Helene Gaillet.