::Burton’s Thousand and One::
120 pages: $16.00
Special memorial price: $5.00
Engagements with the Thousand and One Nights, gender, narration, and Sir Richard Burton, as well as other writers’ takes on the story-cycle, Nights Reading muses upon the nature of narrative and Scheherazade as narrator. Drawing from the original story cycle’s positing of Scheherazade as redeemer of not only herself and her sister virgins of the kingdom, but of just rule and King Shariyar’s humanity, the poems explore tropes of gender and of the seemingly powerless (women, slaves, blacks) to erode and challenge the status quo.
Marthe Reed’s advice to Burton, the Nights translator, is to speak not of what concerns you not. Here the poet examines a great oral tradition put to paper, its ‘thousand miles of moonlight’ obscured by ‘the catholicism of (his) intentions emending her account,’ or rather, not so much Scheherazade’s—herself a fiction, but centuries of storytelling born of another world entirely.
Marthe Reed’s exploratory Nights Reading writes its way through and around a story that may or may not be familiar, the sights, sounds and contradictions of the act of storytelling itself. Moving her book-length accumulations of lyric fragments through the ‘serious play’ of gymnastic puns, breath-breaks and incompletions, Reed’s quick turns and shifts are deliberate, jagged and entirely unexpected. How does one remain on solid ground when both story and narrator are slippery, unreliable? Very carefully, one might say.
…a major coming forth…