Previous Vertigos by Nina Karacosta

A5, 24 pages, February 2011, €5
ISBN 979-10-90394-01-8
The cover image is “Compasses And The Elastic Eye”, by the author.

Le traduction en français, par Anne Talvaz, est Vertiges Précédents.

Hear recordings of the launch readings of Previous Vertigos at Poets Live here and here.



The vertigo in the title of Nina Karacosta’s Previous Vertigos’s draws attention to a whirling or spinning movement, to the causes and history of that motion and the narrator’s attitudes to those movements. Poems flicker and wobble in the collection. They situate the vertigo within relationships and the narrative search for an adequate response to a specific dizziness by finding a form for each instance. This produces an inventive openness to self, self and others, to self and place and to self and the ground upon which she walks. The self is not always stationary but rather seen in suspension or truncation. It is this openness to the vagaries of the self and its relations and in disturbance to dizzying motion, most graphically in poems such as ‘Can’t Talk About It’, ‘The Story Of Everything’, ‘Psychotropic Hurrah’ and ‘Under’ that makes this collection such a cracking read. I thoroughly recommend this collection.
David Caddy, editor of Tears in the Fence



Karacosta’s imagery is often exotic, with orchids and hummingbirds, peyote and spices, but these are counterbalanced with altogether more biological terms: photosphere, embroid, analgetic membranes, mitochondria, fluid flesh. Here is a poet who aims to subvert our expectations at every turn. The result is a kind of schizophrenia that is intriguing.
Read Afric McGlinchey’s full review at Sabotage Reviews.



Previous Vertigos is a collection of memories, advice to self, and reflections captured in windows.  Nina Karacosta’s first collection is mysteriously original; told through a megaphone.  The voice of a very wise underground soul cascading through the rugged cliffs on a distant seascape.  Oddly, this voice is so fresh, so recently acquired, it’s as if the speaker is telling herself this ancient advice for the very first time.  There is a power here, which at times seems to startle the speaker.  “i   can   maybe   write  a   pow  wow  poem”.
 
Reading these poems is like reading a Tarot spread:  there is a lot going on but if you look closer there is even more going on and everything seems to be telling you about this very moment.  An awareness that isn’t logical.  A traveling through time and space on a bus that never leaves the station.  Scaling the walls of the interior.
 
                                Harsh chchbit rapid call
                                in the glass palaces of your childhood
                                where he
                                whispers his yellow skin
                                on horizontal branches of tree.

 
This is a meditation on letting go of the past and capturing the hidden mysteries of all the previousness.  An attempt at isolating it in order to learn from it. Talk back to it. Karacosta has a keen sense for the dreamy.  These poems dig down and burrow.  They are naturally occurring.  “I had crystals hidden into my earth. / I was a crow.”  Things are definitely not what they appear to be; unraveling and unraveling like “worn out legs / away from summer.
Susanna Fry



War games

Save a bed frame. Touch the voice
on the transistor radio
Lick the sun and the smoke.

Shimmy your hips faster
than the buildings. Make love
to a rocket.

Collect skulls

Save water

Play call and response
with the ambulance. Find a toy
in the rubble.

Swim
around a warship.

Turn on the power generator
for thirty minutes.

Count your bones.

Breathe air.