The Next Crystal Text connects the glittering consumption of gems to the brutal exploitation of their production, undermining our cultural myths of beauty, wealth, and the feminine. These multiform poems accrete language from geology and political resistance into a faceted amalgam that’s completely original. Dazzling and various, it both mimics and critiques the intricacy of global capitalist systems.
The Next Crystal Text also posits developments to multiple traditions – both the experimental lyric and the open field poetics of Black Mountain, but with an affable foray into contemporary conceptual minimalism. Its approach to syntax and music is compelling; its wielding of the image is often stunning and lucid. The Next Crystal Text is able to draft from and grow through multiple discourses – geology, world systems, immanent critique, local organizing culture – while remaining very much its own creature terms of tone and image.
“‘A relation, dispersion.// We see what the crystal’s electrons reject/ the rejected emits,’ Mack writes, noting the self’s transformative capabilities. While the work here considers what it might be like to be intoxicated by beauty (gems—“so complete and so ravishing—are like steps that lead into eternity and beyond”), the poem always returns to the “actual work of mining,” how “it was meant to be burdensome.” A glossary is included, defining such terms as cabochon and matrix, but it’s almost unnecessary. In Mack’s work, these beautiful but secretive words parallel the status of crystals and crystallike forms in the world, such that ‘pendaloque-cut emeralds have become emblem of the world-end.'”