On Ghosts

on ghosts2

Solid Objects
ISBN: 978-0-9844142-6-0
$16.00 • 2013 • 64 pages
Small Press Distribution

Finalist, L.A. Times Book Prize, Poetry

This book is continuing a tradition of Neo-Spiritualist literature in America where the poem is the means of divination. The poem is a map of a world where ghosts and unattributed thinkers and writers haunt and intrude and give signals to the world next to us. This is an occupation for all poets, the most secular to the most conceptual and the most experiential and spontaneous. If words appear in prose here in these pages, they are still the production of a New Spiritualist poet who feels the presences and wants to tell us about them. —Fanny Howe

Elizabeth Robinson’s On Ghosts returns us to the haunted aura around words. Here, a crossing of genres—poetry, prose meditation, personal testimony—shows that language itself amounts to a gathering of ghosts. Robinson’s oblique lyricism beckons us toward a twilight zone where we become “witness to the unverifiable.” This is writing as the highest form of bewitching. —Andrew Joron

Through the poems, Robinson speculates, but offers very few conclusions, but for the spaces between the pieces themselves. Constructed predominantly through prose/prose-poems, On Ghosts works through a series of incidents, reports and photographs, allowing the conclusions to reveal themselves slowly, themselves nearly ghost-like and ephemeral. As she writes to open the poem “Definitely Documentary”: “Narrative is a falsification, but still, inside it, strange things begin to happen. The following should be considered as documentary.” —Rob McLennan

While reading Elizabeth Robinson’s new work of poetry/essay, On Ghosts, I couldn’t help but think about Emily Dickinson’s em dashes. Like Dickinson, Elizabeth Robinson is interested in held space, or what Robinson might call ‘hesitations’.  It is through these held spaces that presence takes its awakening breath into the structure; the “hesitation,” or the “pore”—it has many names in the book—is thus an entry point through which the condition of hauntedness may position itself and take hold. —Casey McAlduff, International Poetry Library of San Francisco

“When the apparition has whittled down your resistance, then you are less of who you are than you used to be” (5) The fabric of self is forever changed. You cannot unlearn an experience.  You cannot unhear a call. You cannot unbelieve the way Robinson grips you with a relational deconstructing of ghosts as something that simply is other. Just like the faces that present themselves wherever I look, or try not to look, On Ghosts will be a go-to as an ideological reference on the phenomena of receiving signals as contact from either side, as both curiosity and need. —Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Galatea Resurrects