the archive is all in present tense
Author: Elizabeth Hoover
Publisher: Barrow Street Press (2022)
the archive is all in present tense attempts to capture the feeling of archival research, which, despite being an attempt to access information about the past, has a way of infusing the present; research unfolds in real time as you touch and handle objects that radiate with presence. In the archive we follow a researcher who is exploring a fantastical, limitless archive and though she attempts to research the history of war crimes, she keeps encountering objects from her personal past and memory. Ultimately, it explores both the falling in love with big institutions of learning (libraries, archives, museums) and the exhilaration of discovery, but also the ways these institutions violently exclude and how to reconcile that love with the past wrongs these institutions have committed.
"the archive is all in present tense is an intensely cinematic collection of poems, intensely erotic and equally cerebral, where you will descend into archival folds making the body negative space in a restless, inescapable, eternal now. To write is to rewrite with alphabets of the past, surging into the present, being remade, where the self is both trapped and sublime. In Elizabeth Hoover's bewitching, tightly-focused poems, we fight to surface, we are breathless, are material culture, are object-subjects, we observe our own archivals as we are 'made to be made / Victory / Empire / Change.'"
"the archive is all in present tense works like a preservationist who leaves breadcrumbs for the generations that follow, so they'll understand what was vital and what will continue to be vital for their time. Both the inventiveness of the conceit and the urgency in the content are incredibly compelling, and the language on these lines holds the passion of the present progressive. Sit down, put on your white gloves, and explore!"
–A. Van Jordan
"Step into this mysterious, sumptuous, and scintillating dream archive that is all at once refuge, spectacle, reverie, cabaret, and labyrinth. In these remarkable poems, Elizabeth Hoover transforms the archive into a wonderland and sensorium, not through catalogued evidence but through wild and joyful invention. In elegiac and maximalist poems that interweave and echo back, the archive becomes a metamorphizing space: a music box, a kissing booth, an identity. With great lyric verve, Hoover explores institutional negligence, slippages and spillages around categorization, and how we can perhaps forgive ourselves for needing categorization. In this astonishingly beautiful debut collection, Hoover shows us that the archive is ultimately a supreme act of the imagination."