Paper Aperture and Other Poems
Author Gwen North Reiss was drawn to poetry early on because of the way a poem does its work—in a waterfall of words where language and form work with and against each
other. The lines of her poems are always alert to the constant surprise of being alive.
Two of the poems in this collection fall into the category of ekphrasis; in another, the ode meets up with a kitchen appliance. While Reiss sometimes works in traditional form, the closest thing in these poems to a traditional form is the found dress with its layers and wire structure and the house where it was left behind. “When it was new, my life” allows her to avoid a summing up and to move around within a succession of impressions and experiences. “Telling Everything Compounds the Mystery” becomes an approach of sorts to Henry James and John Singer Sargent. Seamus Heaney once said that a poet is a person to whom things speak: the portrait spoke to Reiss about the shared territory of the painter and the writer, an aesthetic that informs all of the poems in this collection. “Paper Aperture” (the title) was going to be something else, but Reiss’s finger slipped past a key and paper became aper and
the word aperture landed in her lap—a perfect encapsulation of what she had been trying to say about time and words.
From the Curator