The Collected Poems of Lyx Ish
aka Elizabeth Was
Introduction by Maria Damon,
Cover by Liaizon Wakest
2016. 6x9, 125 pages
ISBN-10: 1-93668-702-X | ISBN-13: 978-1-93668-702-2
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Includes the books:
Pink Shot (1984), Onion Leaves, Her Map Untended (1986), Onanism Curdles (1985), and the long poem Every Lines Other (1985-1995).
from the introduction:
In all registers of life, as she transitioned from Elizabeth Perl Nasaw to Liz Was to Lyx Ish, the writer of the works assembled here strove for liberation, primarily of the imagination in its myriad manifestations, but also freedom from enslavement to exploitive economic systems, sexist body politics and domestic arrangements– ultimately, freedom from a separate self, and freedom to play with the unknown. But over and beyond that, she embodied that goal, which is more properly a process, for the many others she included in her vast raying-out of warmth and influence. The other great and related theme is relationality itself, which is the freedom from separateness: the “bean being bean” that is also being earth, water, air and heat(fire). Her writings, collected here by loving survivors mIEKAL aND and Liaizon Wakest, sparkle with the interplay of her many primal roles: artist, mother, lover, daughter, friend–a “woman” and multi-artist in constant multilogue with those categories–in language that romps and tumbles over itself in gleeful fulfillment of utopian (or, as she writes, “oputian,” acknowledging the never-perfect, ever-mutable nature of attempted utopias) intimations.
Every Lines Other gives us access to the experimental feminist poetry of Lyx Ish (Liz Was), an artist of many disciplines during her too-brief life. I first got to know her life and work through anecdotes of her performances & teaching artistry, and was fortunate to engage with some of her book-arts pieces at The Poetry & Rare Books Collection - SUNY Buffalo; Ish's writings are playful, inventive, challenging creations. "I'm not driving you away, I'm opening me up," she writes, as the reader encounters in turn pieces of jazz-inflected sound poetry, art manifesto, surreal narrative lyric. She invites us along on her adventures in language, "The sentence or the paragraph. / I resee writing." And her journey is an embodied one, as we read of limbs, torsos, musical and political imagination engaged with noticing as well as inventing - "Like a man I ignore the absence of women here / Like a woman I long." Reading and rereading these poems we can appreciate, we can be awed by Lyx Ish's "STUTTERING FIRE," and long for more of documents of it such as this.
—Robin F. Brox