Author: Lina ramona Vitkauskas Publication Date: January 15, 2013
A Neon Tryst is a collection of ekphrastic poems featuring the films L’Eclisse (director Michelangelo Antonioni); Seconds (John Frankenheimer); and Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman). Though divided in three separate sections by film, the collection stands as one, cohesive piece, as all main characters share an internal conflict—losing identity with the passage of time. One flees an unhappy marriage and throws herself into fleeting, cold relationships against a rigid and futuristic atomic backdrop—all of her apocalyptic decisions revealing the “time bomb” within. One alters his identity completely by committing pseudocide, then undergoing an intense surgical transformation, only to return to his “old” life. The last, a retired professor in his golden years, takes a journey to his alma mater to be honored for lifetime achievement, only to discover along the way that his life has been anti-climactic at best. The three pieces as a whole illustrate that human tendency is to erase before evolving—as Daumal said, “I become conscious of myself by denying my existence”—and that this is dangerous, liberating, and necessary.
“The ‘trysts’ of Lina Vitkauskas’ book are shot through with ‘neon’—that is, they are saturated with chemicals, textures, atmosphere, and media. According to this synthetic cosmology, ‘In an affair/arms laugh,/they become sheer.’ That is to say, they—arms, bodies, weapons, trysts—become both medium and adjective, both see-through and material. As in Antonioni’s great films, the body is clothes and the clothes are part of the visual atmosphere. A dress moves through a toxic landscape, or a ‘toxic love.’ The ‘trysts’ are movies, fantasies, art. Vitkauskas is ‘surreal, primitive, impressionist, whatever.’ ”—Johannes Göransson, Haute Surveillance (Tarpaulin Sky, 2013) + co-editor, Action Books & Action, Yes
“If film is linear, the ultimate time-based medium, during which we are supposed to listen and watch attentively, passively, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas’ poems in A Neon Tryst talk back. These poems create simultaneity, layers, and distillations toward new narrative logics like ‘Let’s laugh until panties.’ Vitkauskas is watching for the poem in the film, writing her own subtitles (deliciously peculiar subtitles) and in their irreverence they are expansive, wise, and sometimes very funny. Her playful gestures in the face of the tightly choreographed imprint of film create incidental and embodied new texts, and this may very well be a feminist enterprise in its daring, toppling film’s male gaze with ‘I have to half you.’ So if Bergman or narrative expectation of any stripe ever presses on you with too much force, don’t worry! Take A Neon Tryst in hand, ‘Be frothy/and rascally’ and soon you may delight in talking back to the screen everywhere, perhaps adding, with a shrug: ‘I can’t stand chalets.’ ” —Jill Magi, LABOR (Nightboat Books, 2013)
Lina ramona Vitkauskas (b. 1973, Lithuanian-American-Canadian) is the author of A Neon Tryst (Shearsman Books, 2013); HONEY IS A SHE (Plastique Press, 2012); THE RANGE OF YOUR AMAZING NOTHING (Ravenna Press, 2010); and Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star (dancing girl press, 2006). In 2009, Pulitzer-finalist Brenda Hillman selected her for The Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading Award, and Another Chicago Magazine nominated her for an Illinois Arts Council Award.
She’s been published in literary magazines such as DIAGRAM, TriQuarterly, The Chicago Review, The Toronto Quarterly, VLAK (Ed. Louis Armand, Edmund Berrigan), The Prague Literary Review, Van Gogh’s Ear (Paris), White Fungus (Taiwan; displayed at MoMA), and more. She is a part-time faculty member at The Chicago School of Poetics, and the co-editor of the 12-year-running online literary magazine, milk magazine (featuring Robert Creeley, Wanda Coleman, Ron Padgett, Michael McClure, and Japanese surrealist, Yamamoto Kansuke, among others).
For over a decade, she has been a part of Chicago’s poetry community as a reader, collaborator, co-curator, co-founder, organizer/facilitator, instructor, and contest judge. Reading series/projects she’s been involved with include: Chicago Public Radio’s “Chicago Amplified,” Myopic Books, Danny’s, Red Rover (@ OUTER SPACE), Dollhouse Reading Series, Woman Made Gallery, Series A, Quimby’s, Balzekas Lithuanian Museum, Wĭt Rabbit, 100,000 Poets for Change, HUMAN MICROPOEM at Occupy Chicago, Discrete, and many more. She has an MA in Composition & Rhetoric: Creative Writing from Wright State University (where she participated in a summer workshop with National Book Award Winner, Nikky Finney) and holds professional certifications from Northwestern University (in philanthropy) and DePaul University (pedagogy).
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