Transaction Histories (Kuhl House Poets) (Paperback)

Transaction Histories (Kuhl House Poets) By Donna Stonecipher Cover Image
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Reveling in the paradox of the formal prose poem, Donna Stonecipher’s Transaction Histories gathers together six series of poems that explore the disobedient incongruities of aesthetics and emotions. Stonecipher’s carefully sculpted forms and exacting language are held in tension with an unruly imagination to provoke a vision of experience densely layered with bodies impinging upon and altering each other, engaging in transactions that unfold in poetically complex and emotionally startling ways. By turns wry and melancholic, playful and acerbic, erotically charged and politically skeptical, Stonecipher’s poems marry a deeply felt lyricism to a fascination with the mechanisms of narrative. The result is akin to Roland Barthes’s notion of “the novelistic”: writing that flirts with the gestures and spaces of the novel without the trappings of plot, character, or action. Narrative fragments dart in and out of sight, spectral figures and motifs recur in fugal patterns, and habits of ruthless observation are brought to bear on the details of both intimate life and social organization. 

Stonecipher lays claim to a stylistic achievement and vision that are entirely her own, transparent and elusive, casual in address and rigorous in design. Whether training its eye on fetishized polar bears, illegal garbage dumping, or ideological debates around rose chintz wallpaper, Transaction Histories tracks the fitful and tragicomic relationships that exist among objects, landscapes, texts, and people, and lays bare the ways in which our transactions keep our lives going. 

About the Author

Donna Stonecipher is the author of The Reservoir, Souvenir de Constantinople, The Cosmopolitan, Model City, and Prose Poetry and the City. She lives in Berlin, Germany. 

Praise For…

“The prospect of a book filled with prose poems is admittedly better than the prospect of a book filled with thumbtacks, but not by much. So it is greatly to Stonecipher’s credit that Transaction Histories is a delight: a mordant yet romantic survey of art, love, hunger and plastic owls in which seemingly unrelated observations are meticulously knit together to form a resonant whole. The method here is generally to put a figure or phrase in play — for example, a little girl who “turned out to have just one wish for her tenth birthday: an entire box of fortune cookies to herself” — and then to move immediately away from it, only to return again later in an altered context that forms the poetic equivalent of a chord (several pages later, the girl and her fortune cookies return as a counterpoint to a man who “felt most at home in airports”).”—New York Times

“There is a fine tension she [Stonecipher] explores, ‘aesthetics and emotions,’ moving between and among landscapes of history, vision, artwork, and writing, shifting across a wide field of interpretations and responses, as well as the collisions that occur between seemingly disconnected thoughts, images, and sentences.”—Rob McClennan’s Blog

“With her new book Transaction Histories, Donna Stonecipher cements her reputation as master of the prose poem. . . . Stonecipher shows us our bafflement, our exposure, our nostalgia, in the uncanny images and sharp paradoxes of everyday life.”—Boston Review

“Stonecipher’s ability to synthesize the visceral (corset), the ephemeral (splendor), and the abstract (grammar) into a self-sufficient sentence set her apart from her contemporaries: this was neither a style that could be picked up nor writing that could be taught. . . . In poem after poem, Stonecipher opens up a space in which readers can reflect upon what has been placed before them—a mosaic that is rigorous and elusive, a challenge to keep the whole in mind while remembering all the distinct elements, to recognize different transactions or exchanges in the fluid world she evokes with preternatural precision. At once detached and empathetic, Stonecipher observes, uncovers, and probes our present malaise, the recognition that the future and past are constantly colliding in our everyday lives, shadowed by the suspicion that such encounters may erase all evidence of our existence.”—Hyperallergic

Today’s Book of Poetry always wants to like the books we receive. Stonecipher gave us no choice. . . . Stonecipher’s foot never comes off the gas, the deeper you go into Transaction Histories the more intimately things are revealed. At times, it feels as though Stonecipher is trying to emotionally engineer some sort of new and beautiful language, a whole new template.” —Today’s Book of Poetry

“Lush imagery, beckoning history, curious interactions, elusive dreams, and existential questions fuse in this prose poetry collection, the fifth by Donna Stonecipher.”—Foreword Reviews

Previous praise for Donna Stonecipher’s Model City

“[A] highly affecting work of imagination and sensibility . . . one often feels afloat in a world concocted and dreamy, there and not there.” 

— Martha Ronk, The Constant Critic

Previous praise for Donna Stonecipher’s Model City
“In the same way that architecture must abide by certain rules and regulations but can still create a thing of beauty, Stonecipher, by constraining herself to engineer within her own parameters, forms beautiful language and ideas.”

— Hamzah M. Hussain, DURA

Previous praise for Donna Stonecipher’s Model City
“How many poets are there in the world that you go looking for online, checking regularly, even impatiently, to see whether and when their new books will be out? Not many. Among the poets whose work I anxiously await, Donna Stonecipher has long been near the top of the list.”

— Michael Thurston, Massachusetts Review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781609386023
ISBN-10: 1609386027
Publisher: University Of Iowa Press
Publication Date: September 10th, 2018
Pages: 102
Language: English
Series: Kuhl House Poets