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Bright and Hurtless

(Ahsahta Press, 2018)

"With robust syntax and a sense of humor, Bright and Hurtless is committed to the discoveries made in the wild of association and remains optimistic about transformative powers made evident by language. Here, ear intersects with eye, intellect intersects with feeling, and different methods of paying attention and knowing the world are brought into contact. Invested in the unit of the word, these poems explore how a glance turns into a ricochet—what anchors, what upends, what morphs, and what remains."

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{Horse Less Press, 2015)

"Following in a long line of acts of piracy by women writers (Kathy Acker's Pussy, King of the Pirates), Kristi Maxwell proves herself a masterful ventriloquist. Slipping her hand into through a card game (Royalty), a children's book, historical documents on sea pirates, and Treasure Island, Maxwell speaks, strikes, through double entendres, puns, homonyms, and jokes—all the devices scorned by the 'original' pirates of linguistic, cultural and political power. PLAN/K—not only Dickinson's plank but also Maxwell's (and Kafka's) plan K (plans A-J always go awry)—engenders alternate subtexts, defrocks priests and denudes emperors: '['where are your manners' 'where are your manners' 'inflected' 'infected' 'affected']) but reads as a He by her mother's (Design / Deceit [by her knowing the Signs by which a Pete is Mister-ed and Sir-ed (Served vs. Serfed)]).]' Meaning radiates in all directions, refusing and submitting to the lure of narrative, the drive to annex: 'Frontier Thesis[:] [...] Turner's funda(men)tal orientation [turner] to the land.' Though Maxwell sets sail with the infamous pirate(ss) Mary Read, PLAN/K is less a 'whole lotion to cross' than perpetual Brownian motion in the Petri dish of culture, a nervous twitching of semantic, syntactical and grammatical categories. It is also a book sounding the bottoms: 'Gen-Hur on a cherry-it a char[ge]iot (c [as see]-h[e]r-riot!) Mary Read, the woman compelled by her mother to deceive in order to live: '[Mary Read has no Reed (read: Penis; read: Man-Oar).' Oar-less, Maxwell takes a leap—is pushed from the PLAN/K. And adventure begins."

—Tyrone Williams

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That Our Eyes Be Rigged

(Saturnalia Books, 2014)

Playful, penetrating, and often operating by aural law, the poems in That Our Eyes Be Rigged take shape as one word quickly transforms into another via sonic slippages. These fluid transformations simultaneously reveal the worlds within a word and build correspondences between unlikely terms—highlighting the very notion of exchange between the linguistic and the physical realm. Maxwell’s poems are both generous and demanding. While the operating intelligence behind the poems incessantly questions how one makes a life in language (and vice versa), the poems themselves enact arrangements that might make such pathways possible. These restless and inventive poems provide feats of language that lead us to agree with Maxwell’s speaker when she says: Our awe is our confession.

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(Ahsahta Press, 2011)

These poem cycles explore relationships both human and linguistic. Responsive (and responses) to the multiple connections between words, the poems create a narrative where intimacy and sensuality are revealed in the spaces between: "Logic a device that keeps wonder at bay. / The bay where they docked and will dock again." The repetitions-with-difference of RE- suggest that the seemingly contradictory notions of stability and change are reciprocal.

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