This review is about 2 printed pages long.
A terminal is both an endpoint and a beginning point – this suggests a circuit. Humming is evidence of energy, human or machine – this too suggests a circuit. K. Lorraine Graham’s Terminal Humming sets things going by charting, confusing, and switching circuits, and each current it taps into provides a positive charge. It is a social book, inviting in its unabashed frankness, wit, and energy. It is pert, pertinent, and impertinent. It is about exchange and circulation – not of money, but of genders, offers, promises, admissions, both personal, faux personal (as in “the personals”), and impersonal – bureaucratic.
As far as I know, this chapbook is Graham’s first publicaction (sic), and it sparkles with a compelling and fresh play of voice and personalities. Despite a dash of post-lyric disenchantment, it holds fiercely to the real and important work that can be done in that mode. This disenchantment is announced on page one of Terminal Humming; it sets out like a good old book of poetry with this “Love Poem”:
And I want
And I want
And I want baaaah
“Love Poem” is short-circuited; “Love Poem” is the title of all that follows in the quick switch out of the insular rhetoric of lyric desire – and the stanza – and into social rhetorics of love and sex: want ads, intimate secrets revealed, porn as a conduit of human relations analyzed. What follows “Love Poem” is sixteen pages of flow – sometimes prose, sometimes blocky stanzas, interjected voices, random spaces, graceful tildes. This flow never congeals into “character” although this chapbook can be read like a novella, not only because of a coherency of “content” – so much currency passing through our fingers – but because of its fluid form. It is not a book of “poems” but a moving-through-poetry as a way to square with the (gendered) world.
With lines like “There is something cultural going on here, though, so I didn’t do it,” “Logic is a problem I transgress” and “Overcome emotion by funding it,” this is a book of social graces for the post-feminist “girl” – i.e. the (naturally) feminist woman with the playful yet serious, tough and “mature” (i.e. only sometimes immature, and then pointedly so) attitude. She is Dorothy Parker sans hang ups (both social and poetic). This is a poetry unashamed of its attitude, which advocates a fierce allegiance to the self – even if that self isn’t 100%. This attitude is not mere decoration; it is a purposeful etching and a viable source of cultural redefinition.This work is female, tough and smart – K. Lorraine Graham is a poet from whom we should all hope to hear more and more and more.