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The poems gathered in Aleatory Allegories confront a world marked both by chance and by meaning – or, meaning in the chance events that play themselves out in language. As Schultz writes in the central long poem of this collection, “Holding Patterns,” “words are at once / leash and bungie cord, urging constancy / within risk[.]” The poems in her collection are, in equal measure, playful and thoughtful. They confront issues of desire, loss, and historical events (such as the OJ Simpson trial, JFK’s assassination), and they do so using wordplay and diction that mixes “poetic” and “popular” sources. At stake is the place of poetry in the contemporary world; the role of the poet in a land (Hawai`i) that is not hers: and the extent to which one can (still) tell stories that are true. Schultz combines a keen eye and ear for detail with a habit of mind that locates meaning in and out of particularity.
‘Wandering ruminations on the highs and lows and laminations in which we are wrapped in the in between. Susan Schultz’s uneasy critical intelligence scans the contemporary cultural landfill, making lyrically acidic etchings ‘as testimony to the day’s / partial illumination’. Listening, we find our share of aesthetic pleasure in the process that, if it doesn't set us loose, sets us sailing on seas of verse.’ —Charles Bernstein
‘Schultz’s visionary syntax, humane and venturesome, never founders in its voyage across the larger questions, an endless fund of newly coined phrase sparkling in its wake.’ —Randolph Healy
‘If Allegory gets pegged as a premodern trope and chance is the hallmark of postmodernism, then Schultz is interested in their collision as it plays out in the moral, natural and spiritual worlds of Hawaii.’ —Publishers Weekly
‘In the end, it is those details, their fascinating and intricate connections, that make us see the complexity of the real world without the flattening attempts of media spins and sound bytes, without the superficiality we can fall for in lazily desiring simple pictures, obvious solutions. Schultz’s allegories reward their reading and deserve re-reading; their attention to the world demonstrates how it is in caring for the small, chance-met things that you find what you need.’ —Janet Bowdan
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