Emptied of All Ships
Author: Stacy Szymaszek
Publisher: Litmus Press (2005)
"Stacy Szymaszek places her readers in a border situation. Here is a poetics of extreme condensation. 'ink a hinge here/ 'n here/ 'n mother/ make me limber.' Where traces are, lines remain. Magic is implicated in every shot and countershot. This is idiosyncratic and stunning work."
"Each poem is what I am looking for: a resonance with a particular location, an intelligence unafraid of its humanity, a sort of desperate adequacy with the people or objects that Szymaszek encounters."
"Emptied of All Ships is a setting out into crucial waters. Each word here has its own weight and position--its own vital movement between poles of loss and discovery. With our sight-lines thus widened, the observance itself becomes activated--another mode of transport. A poetry of brevity is a tough task (especially the word-as-line), but in these pages it registers as achievement."
"These stanza-pearls are dressed in tight corsets emulating a Roman, masculine brevity. Her use of craft ('last to touch / your craft') tells us shucks we are outside the law..."
–Julian T. Brolaski
"Reading Emptied of All Ships ... one is lulled, as by waves, by narrow lines of verse flowing, page by page, most of them composed of only one or two words. The whole book takes seafaring as its métier, and this is both literal and metaphoric, historical and current, about craft and emotion."
"To read Emptied of All Ships is to enter an unfixed universe of ideas with taut internal logic, multiple shifts in perspective, syntactic gaps, and a strapping, nearly epic synechdoche. It is a world where sensual juxtapositions abound and elude, keeping the reader off balance. The form is at once concrete and motion-filled... [D]rawings throughout the book act as cartography to mark our way through the unsettled whole, while Brenda Iijima's ghostly and panoramic cover art brings us right into the vortex of water's creative and destructive force."
–Denise Nico Leto