Some Beheadings by Aditi Machado
Some Beheadings
Poetry | $15.95
paperback, 96 pages, 6 x 9 in
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978-1-937658-73-1

A stunning debut collection that examines the geophilosophy of lyric poetry

Here the “beheaded” poet displaces her mind into the landscape, exploring territories as disparate as India’s Western Ghats and the cinematic Mojave Desert, as absurd as insomnia and dream. Some Beheadings asks three questions: “How does thinking happen?” “What does thinking feel like?” “How do I think about the future?” The second question takes primacy over the others, reflecting on what poets and critics have called “the sensuous intellect,” what needs to be felt in language, the contours of questions touched in sound and syntax.

Dear Aditi, I did receive “Route Marienbad”. Read it. Had the feeling I was discovering a real poet. A wonderful feeling. I hope you keep this “innocence,” this directness, this genuineness. Bonne chance, Etel Adnan

One way to think of these crystalline (brilliant, light-filled, prismatic, latticed) poems is as interlocking gears in a jeweled surrealist watch that has been put to bed in a transparent glass case and yet, day after day, it refuses to sleep. The parts can be seen continually moving, although at variable speeds: as soon as one goes faster, another carefully slows its pace. Each element is mesmerizing in its elegance. To attempt to deconstruct these poems would be to blow them apart. That said, what can be said is—They are utterly contemporary. They are deeply intimate. They are the lashes of a forest of thought.—Mary Jo Bang

If John Ashbery’s Some Trees marked a new beginning for modern American poetry, Aditi Machado’s Some Beheadings renovates the poetics of indeterminacy for our transnational continuous present.  Tracing migratory routes through the thickets and deserts of signification—from the Western Ghats to Marienbad and beyond—Machado arrives at something like a spiritual allegory for the disenchanted. “Grace not of but as / god,” is the subject of her post-universal grammar, “that unusable concept / used in excess.” The grace of such work opens new prospects—or prospekts?—onto identity’s imperium: “& I is an orient in the sense that all things wend toward me.” Yet the spectre of sovereignty, in Machado’s literary imagination, remains ever haunted by its own linguistic predication. “I have lived,” observes this incomparable elegist of belonging, “is a way of saying something ceased.”  —Srikanth Reddy

Machado’s steadfast and rigorous debut exists at the intersection of language and place, where thinking takes the shape of a tree or a thicket of “florid logic” that grows and branches in multiple directions at once. “I describe my day to myself as if I were perambulating through infinite foliage,” she writes. The images take readers across time and space: to fields dotted with grazing ruminants; deserts whose “labial dunes” double as runes; and, in an oblique reference to the film Last Year at Marienbad, a Marienbad where a “single baroque animal/ opens a pomegranate” and “ancient civilizations spill out as red beads.” Though the focus of the text meanders, the first-person perspective offers a sense of immediacy; in other words, however disembodied the thinking, and however omnidirectional the thought, the speaker grounds ideas with notions of physicality: “Can you wake up/ from a sentence like/ you wake up on the porch?” Machado’s luscious descriptions—themselves “a mild decadence, an explicit/ industry as that of bees”—exude a palpable strangeness, and the speaker welcomes constant change and movement without requiring a resolution. The result is a labyrinthine sensorium where thinking about thinking generates ever more pleasures. (Oct.)—Publisher's Weekly