Barbara Maloutas
     On my bookshelf I note an inordinate number of authors whose last names begin with the letter M: Melville, Marquez, Moore, Maugham, Merrill, du Maurier, Mead, Murdoch, Malraux, Mitchell, Miller, Mill and Mann. Among these I am proud to house a couple of volumes by Barbara Maloutas:  In a Combination of Practices and The Whole Marie. A look into these books reveals a voice that is aloof yet unpretentious, undramatic yet charged, matter-of-fact yet dreamlike. We can say of her what has been said of Heidegger’s philosophy: she possibly does not intend to be completely understood. And like Joyce, she possibly would like critics and scholars to mull over her intentions for a long time to come. And they should. But what is not difficult to understand is that some everyday things—especially dreams—are not wholly understandable: hours and days and even decades on a psychoanalyst’s couch will yield insights but not all answers to all questions, and the same is true of experimental poetry.
    Most contemporary mainstream poets (insofar as poets are ever mainstream) resemble sports stars or rock stars in their hunger for laughs and adulation or at least approval; not so with the Language Poets, and this includes Barbara to an extent. Her poetry is full of quiet investigations. In one poem she tells us that who she is “doesn’t matter.” She is “the least invested / in the construction. It is / after all a project. / For better or worse / it does not include everyone and least of all / strangers who are not invested at all.”
    She asks us to be part of the project. And even when that project is a challenge, we can, at a minimum, appreciate the creativity of her tableaux vivants, the startling inventiveness of her wordplay, the breadth of her curiosity and the vitality of the world she has created.


Direction 4

shadows die shifting       red hair (flames)
a corner whispers to creep round to night
merely air     sways knowing a refrain
the wind plays (fair) luck as
a woman walks unseen blocking views      (blocking)
she thinks of remarking neither black nor lace
a long dinner closes at the end (by) slipping (away)
the moment lives for a moment all of a summer
a wheel slows down rapt by a (circle) fittingly
sun-seeking without thought    wide out(side)
every star a long yet still alive
hail where are you       never-ending like some picture of
waters spreading something to (do)          little maniacs writhe
(wet) and tender


Originally published in The Whole Marie, Ahsahta Press, 2009. 


2010 Barbara Maloutas
Barbara Maloutas was a Featured Poet who read her poetry at the April 2010 Second Sunday Poetry Series