Review of Megan Levad's Why We Live in the Dark Ages (Tavern Books, 2015)

A P/rose/oem Re(Action) to Megan Levad's Why We Live in the Dark Ages
a patchwork of p/rose/oems concerning know(ledge)

by Ariana Nadia Nash

From “Bullying”:
“and has a different colored eye, which, by the way, if you have a different- / color eye it means you ate your twin, I mean you, you absorbed your twin / in, in the womb.”

Doubled self. Multifolding language. Onepointing to many. You and not you. One always multiple. 


An index, rather than a table of contents. Find Afghanistan; cartilaginous skeletons; Heidegger, Martin; kangaroos; Plague, the; Playgirl; sea grapes; vaccines; vampires. Infinite Jest-like spatiality to the form. Internet-like. Word-searched. Read(y) for literary criticism from the “digital humanities.” An authoritative guide? What other forms of order are displaced? 


A question can be an assertion?

Power? Feminism?

Overvaluing contingency uncertainty gaps is ignorance? Undervaluing contingency uncertainty gaps is tyranny?

The question marks a form of excess?


Evolution is nonlinear. Reptiles had breasts. Whales from camels. Fractions are like verse. We’re in the Dark Ages, maybe?, because we don’t all speak the dominant language, which today, maybe?, is scientific. History is also nonlinear, because history always looks back while moving forward. Which is why we try to raise chimps as people, maybe?


From “Great Men of Science: Thucydides”:
“Okay so...and uh...sort of, you know sort of...but that, uh / I don’t know if...So...they were / they were sort of....and, uh... and, uh...were sort of like...Anyway...all crazy, like...and somehow...for this uh, this uh....if you will. / And uh...on his way to, I think...and, uh...or...and uh, and uh, this could / lead to uh, to uh, his death...they

were sort of, uh...sort of paranoid....So...or uh...I don’t know if he literally did that...he sort, he, he, he was very / good at um, um, sort whatever...a Spartan lifestyle if you will...I think it was this / I think, I think...or something...Anyway all...and maybe he / slept with...maybe he didn’t....anyway he did some, I think...for the uh, the uh...I believe”


God is referenced on pgs. 27, 41, 73, 75, 80, 81. As in “God I loved that book!” and Anne Sexton’s poetry collection, as in Kepler and Ptolemy’s views of God and the universe, a quote from John 3:16, and St. Paul on the road to Damascus. God in multiform interconnections? God in information-masked-as-knowledge in all its dementions?


What is the difference between a line break and ‘uh’? Can ‘uh’ be a ledge in language? “ the feeling of being on a cliff, this is a very / simplified version, being on a cliff looking over the cliff at the smallness or / the expanse, the, the uh, expanse the, the expansiveness of what’s below / the cliff or beyond the horizon and the....feeling of both terror and awe.”


Pro(fusion). Monotremes to Walkabout to male ambivalence toward nursing to sweat to “gross” opossums. Homeopathy: nano-nonsense, Hippocratic oath. Plural(isms). Anne Sexton following or maybe of the “Great Men of Science.” The “brain-body reaction” of love. All the chimps and the kittens they loved or killed. (Enter)relation. Hap(hazard)ness.

From “Lucy, Part Two”:
“...somewhere / off of South America does that make any sense? Do chimps live there? / That’s wrong it was, was Africa. Somewhere off of South Africa. Or / is Ghana in Africa? It was Ghana. An island off of Ghana.”

It was The Gambia. 


It’s sort of like Drunk History, or at least maybe asks: What’s up with Drunk History? What’s so funny about in(toxic)ated people getting history half right? Jen hic(cuping) that Washington was a “dumb fuck” for his treatment of Oney. Duncan vomiting into a toilet while explaining why Edison was an asshole and how Tesla fell in love with a pigeon.


If every line of a poem goes to the end of the page, is it verse? Or ragged prose wearing a mask? Distinction made arbitrary?

Language hovers between two entities and refuses to be recognizably either? 


Ariana Nadia Nash is the winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry for her collection Instructions for Preparing Your Skin, published by Anhinga Press. She has also published the chapbook Our Blood Is Singing from Damask Press. Her work has appeared in Rock & Sling, Poet Lore, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Cimarron Review, among other journals. She is a lecturer at the University of Chicago.