The Politics of Syntax and Poetry Beyond the Border
Ari Banias. (Photo by Chani Bockwinkel) “Some men are women too / the way a mountain is land and a harbor is land and a parking lot,”Ari Banias writes in “ Oracle ,” the opening poem in his new collection, A Symmetry . In Banias’s poems, binary oppositions—of men and women, land and sea, us and them—buckle, as the very idea of borders is made porous. Attending to the entanglements between the material and the metaphorical, Banias interrogates the terms of relation mapped by dominant systems and structures that underpin global capitalist orders. “What is the ‘we’ whiteness requires?” Banias’s poems encourage us to ask. What does “elsewhere” mean when immigration severs the material “here” of daily life from the imaginative “here” of home? How might transness point us toward other ways of being?
Banias’s first book, Anybody (2016)—a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Center USA Literary Award—probes the vexed meanings of embodiment at the untidy intersection of personal experience and social meaning. Published earlier this fall, A Symmetry moves through layered geographies—bodies, imaginations, and other landscapes—exploring the brutal fictions of borders and the real scars they leave, the ways in which they script encounters, […]