10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 5, 2000
'Isolato' leaves roo r essert
By Amy Geurink
For the Daily
If youare a reader who enjoys eating words,
then "Isolato" is a book for you. If, however,
you expect those words to taste rich and satis-
fying, you might want to direct your appetite
elsewhere. This collection of poems by Univer-
sity alum Larissa Szporluk presents an impres-
sive entourage of vocabulary, some tasting
sweet. others sour or bitter, leaving the tongue
in a constant state of anticipation. Unfortunate-
ly, no matter how much
dancing, jumping and tick-
ling her poems perform on
the taste buds, once they
are swallowed they leave
Larissa Szporluk their consumer feeling dis-
Grade: C appointedly empty.
University of Iowa "Isolato," a winner of an
Press annual national competi-
tion awarded by the Uni-
versity of Iowa Press, is
Szporluk's second full-
length poetry collection,
and is enticing but elusive.
. _The voice in these poems is
real and spits words at
readers with an addictive intensity. The poems
wander in and out of consciousness with a crip-
pled but powerful rhythm. The author's manipu-
lation of rhythm and tone make it difficult not to
be ensnared with the passion of her words.
However, as is common with passion, upon
reflection one realizes the moment of intensity
was lacking in substance.
define the poem, it cannot be denied that
Szporluk possesses a genius for language. She
presents intense imagery in the poems of "Iso-
lato" with tantalizing detail that provides some
insight into the labyrinth of her poetry. Her
pictures are refreshing in their newness, as in
"The 'nforseen,'" when she claims that "blood
is just water / turned red, red with desire."
Despite the beauti ful images, Szporluk pro-
vides no means of decoding the meaning. It is
uncertain how one is supposed to get from the
beginning of a poem such as "Mare Nubium"
and the image "If the devil caused the flood,
he's sure to sell the sun,' to the ending image
of "The engrossment of a stag / stepping out of
what the illustration calls the forest."
One of the few clues Szporluk allows her
audience to discover can be found in her care-
ful control of form. She uses the form of her
poems to guide her often limping readers
through the experience of "Isolato." Allowing
the line breaks, stanza breaks, italicies and
punctuation to dictate movement is often quite
"Isolato" is a collection of poetry that pos-
sesses a passion not focused on self that is rare
in contemporary writing. The poems are full of
secrets, spirals and flights. This wild ride, how-
ever, turns out to be quite ineffectual. The
secrets are never unfolded and the spirals arc so
intense that by th end of the flight, one is left
completely befuddled. If you choose to read
these poems, nibble on them, chew them thor-
oughly, enjoy the way they dance on your tongue.
Just don't be surprised that when you swallow
them, you find you still have room for dessert.
Courtesy of Simon Gerzin
The Groove Collective plays the Bling Piggly-Wiggly tonight. Clean up on Aisle 41
By John Leffel
For the Daily
Courtesy of University of Iowa Press
Emotions run wild through the poems in
"Isolato" and are frighteningly familiar. This
disjointed chaos, while striking, leaves the
ideas behind the emotion feeling underdevel-
oped. Themes of womanhood, abuse, alien-
ation, God and writing must be dug up from
underneath the mounds of words piled on top
Although these words often dilute instead of
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New York City's Groove Collective is
a band that defies musical classification
by fusing funk, jazz, trip hop, Afro-
Cuban and electronic music in a rotat-
ing, collective ensemble of musicians
and guest musicians that all perform
with one objective in mind: To create
flowing, funky grooves that will get the
Formed in the early '90s New York
club scene, Groove Collective was
structured around a core group of musi-
cians including flute player Richard
Worth, MC and
G'" Clay, key-
GrOOVe boardist Itaal
COleCtive Shur, drummer
Blind Pig (jenji Siraisi and
Tonight at 10 bassist Jonathan
3 ist Jay
Roseman, trumpet player Fabio Morg-
era and additional percussionist Chris
Theberge later in 1990, forming a ten-
member nucleus of musicians with a
home base in a small Soho basement
called Sybarite. The club closed in
1993, prompting the group to begin
The band's first album, a collection
of live recordings, immediately proved
that Groove Collective had much to
offer. The self-titled album illustrated
the musicians' uncanny ability to blend
numerous groove lines, creating a daz-
zling, contagiously boppable musical
With the 1996 studio album "We the
People," Groove Collective again con-
firmed their ability to seriously jam out,
produce quality dance remixes, or just
as easily relax into extended, ja
grooves that embody the band's dedica-
tion to traditional swing and bebop.
The inventiveness and depth of the
groups' sound that characterized "We
the People" is reflected also in the range
and diversity of its gigs: Appearances
at Switzerland's Montreaux Jazz Festi-
val, Newport Jazz Japan with B.B.
King, a week long stint at Tokyo's Blue
Note, a tour with the Dave Mathews
Band, an opening for James Brown and
plentiful live performances featuri
such guest musicians as Erykah Badu,
The Roots and Tito Puente.
This versatility also characterizes the
band's most recent release, 1999's
"Declassified," an album that, in its
very title, reinforces the group's refusal
to conform to the arbitrary categoriza-
tions imposed on bands by the music
industry. One of the most interesting
and impressive tracks off "Declas
fled" is a soulful, psychedically-infuse
electronic cover of The Beatles'
"Martha My Dear," a strange choice but
one that's beautifully executed and
unique in sound and approach.
Simply put, Groove Collective :will
blow your mind and get you danciiug,
whatever the occasion; as M. Doughity
aptly summarizes in his liner notes-to
the bands's first album, "The Groove
Collective is music for basement/ sto n
jeep! living room!/or dance floor ...'-
Local fans also have something
special to look forward to: Grove
Collective will soon start releasing a
series of live recordings, beginnilig
with last year's Ann Arbor show.
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