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The Rorschach Factory by Valerie Fox

The Rorschach Factory by Valerie Fox is a collection of poems that are left up to the interpretation of the reader in many cases.  Much like the inkblot test, these poems provide snippets of color, image, and story to provide an outline for readers, and those readers are then tasked with filling in the blanks and interpreting what is there.  Some poems seem to carry a personal history in many of the lines, while others are whimsical in their interpretations of pop culture and real-life relationships.

From “This Is Not My Cousin” (page 9):
This is not the sensational human
condition.  God is not in the picture
just me and trees and my cousin’s shadow.
We like how I am standing on the high place
a smiling paperdoll propped up on the edge
about to step back, waving to Columbus.

From “You’re No Axl Rose” (page 43):

You’re no Axl Rose but your sentences are
as complex as your hair, in an unintended,
wiry, I will live forever way, the way Axl
swings his hips and smokes just enough
to achieve his pristine scratchy scream.
You’re no James Dean but when you can afford
to drive a Porsche I’ll let you drive me
to the Acme to buy aspirin or milk.

Fox’s writing style leaves room for the imagination of the reader so that each new audience can take their own journey.  In other poems, there is a clear tone that shines through the lines, like in “The Temple” (page 37) where the narrator talks about her time with a poet who thought of himself as upper class, but of her as much lower.  The poet was slumming it with the narrator, but you can tell from turns of certain phrases that this view was not accurate:  “He’s my essay.//Soon enough/he ran out of money./I’m a poet, and I’d squirreled a bit of currency away./This became my motto-//’I got mine.'” (page 38)

Broken down into four sections — Out of Time, The One Who Leaves You, Accomplice, and Unrest — the narrator has set up a collection of poems that would appear to be drenched in despair and regret, but readers will be surprised by the not only whimsical poems but also the humor with which she highlights pop culture and elements of the ridiculous in intimate relationships.  Overall, The Rorschach Factory by Valerie Fox is a collection that you can read in one sitting, piecemeal, and revisit over and over, finding nuances to each poem that may not have been as prominent upon first reading.

About the Poet:

Dr. Fox’s most recent book is Bundles of Letters, Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press), written with Arlene Ang. Previous books of poems are The Rorschach Factory (Straw Gate Books) and Amnesia, or, Ideas for Movies (Texture Press). Her work has appeared in many magazines, including Hanging Loose, The World, Feminist Studies, Siren, Phoebe, Watershed, sonaweb, and West Branch.

She was a founding co-editor of 6ix magazine (1990-2000), and currently edits Press 1, a journal featuring poetry, short fiction, opinion, and photography.  Very involved in collaborative writing, she and Arlene Ang have collaborated in the writing of poetry and fiction, publishing in magazines such as Admit 2, Origami Condom, Per Contra and Qarrtsiluni.  At Drexel, Dr. Fox teaches Freshman Writing, Creative Writing (poetry), and Readings in Poetry. She’s particularly interested in experimental poetics and online teaching/e-learning.

About the Indie/Small Press:

Straw Gate Books published Valerie Fox’s The Rorschach Factory and was founded in 2005 by poet and co-founding editor of 6ix magazine (1990-2000) Phyllis Wat in Philadelphia, Pa.  Here’s a snippet of their mission:

“We are particularly interested in works by women and non-polemical writing with an underlying social content. We also feature new authors and authors whose work is underserved.”

This is my 3rd book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

 

 

This is my 9th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

 

 

Here’s a confession, I’ve had this book for a couple of years, and I believe it came from the author or her good friend Arlene Ang.  I’m just now getting around to it.  This is my 5th book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge.