Emily Liebowitz grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is the Author of National Park (Gramma, 2018) and the chapbook In Any Map (Songcave, 2015). She lives in Brooklyn where she co-edits LVNG Magazine and serves on the board of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP)
One of the finest first books of recent years, Emily Sieu Liebowitz’s National Park exhibits the emergent, wide-open verbal music of America’s postmodern urban zones, those Yosemites and Yellowstones of second nature. Its collective, impersonal ways with voice and phrasing could be culled from the tattered margins of Ron Silliman’s In the American Tree, that legendary anthology of Language Writing to which her title pointedly alludes. Liebowitz fabricates an enigmatic, quasi-personal mode in this arcade of poems evocatively composed for the page. A collection whose streets are littered with singular, verbally dense expressions and recursive poetic talismans, National Park moves the scales of our expectations in a poem. Liebowitz sends a “radio wave of creative space” like a quasar from some original precinct of the poetic universe.
I seldom want to read contemporary poems aloud, much less an entire book, but this book—I hear it in my mind’s ear and want to say every word. National Park is a gorgeous discussion of the horrors of manifest destiny, plus ongoing everyday life (dancing, shopping) in the U.S. Step by carefully placed step, it brings us closer to gardens and buildings we feel like we’ve known forever but have already forgotten the names of. This is poetry for this century.
Emily Sieu Leibowitz’s National Park is a kind of poetic field guide to fields. The map of the map is the map, mapping. “This is about logic, benchmarks, people gathered and circled.” The ways we think in and of language become landscape, it’s a National Park after all. Liebowitz invites us to gather and circle, to meditate on the mediations, and find “the re-opened shacks in life.”