"Farewellia a la Aralee" [Ralph La Charity], a review by Tyrone Williams

Aralee Strange

Farewell to this, that, and all that ...

Ralph La Charity muses on mortality ...

Ralph La Charity, Farewellia a la Aralee (Dos Madres Press, 2014), 53 pp.—In the vatic trajectories from Whitman that inform significant figures of modern USA poetry—Ginsberg and Dorn, Olson and Eshleman, etc.—Ralph La Charity has made a place for himself as a Cincinnati-based raconteur-cum-surrealist. From early works like the scathing Seatticus Knight (Black Heron, 1985) to more recent self-published chapbooks flawed man drowns (2010/11) and beneath each Us & All(2011), La Charity has served up his exuberant, often exorbitant, blend of nonlinear neologisms and pun-riddled yawps. He has co-founded and performed in jazz/performance poetry bands and recorded his work on records and cds. Farewellia brings all his varied skills together. The first half of the book, dedicated to the memory of Midwest/Southern poet/film-maker Aralee Strange, compiles poems composed and performed (a cd is included with the book) by La Charity, some of which are culled from the aforementioned book and chapbooks and some of which are, in the best sense of the term, occasioned by the memorial. The former, often renamed (e.g., the eponymous “beneath Each Us & All” is, here, “Dark Lawful Rhythmic Infinity Beneath Each Us & All”), resonate, in texture and style, more with the writings  in the 1998 chapbook reproduced in the second half of the book than they do with recent work. One reads and hears, for example, La Charity’s playful use of alliteration in a line like “infinitely City beneath CinCinity” from the aforementioned poem and, fromCinemanuensing, “as tidal flux frisked doublebind criss & crux.” (“Stampedimenta”). The latter title, a tongue-twisting mash-up of secretarial, cinematic and poetic responsibilities, refers to a facsimile reproduction of La Charity’s 1998 chapbooka “habeus corpus poetique.” This text of prose and poetry contextualizes and records the Cincinnati environs of Strange’s film This Train, later  adapted to the stage . Finally, the cd features La Charity reciting, chanting and occasionally singing a capella, in an urgent tremulous tenor, the poems in the first half of the book. Farewellia a la Aralee is thus a memorial to Lee and celebration of the human arts (which she, like La Charity, was invested in), multiple gestures toward the primacy we give the eye, ear, throat and mouth, particular pleasures within the sensorium. 

(originally appeared online in Jacket 2 magazine)

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