CSU Poetry Center, 2018, 130 pages.
Reviewed by Brian Clifton
Early in Orient, which won the CSU Poetry Center 2018 Open Book Contest, Nicholas Gulig states, “Pronounced across an opening, the act of listening constructs a bridge that binds a single space. This despite the distance and the violence of difference.” This quotation encapsulates one way the collection of poems approaches the gap between the tongue and the ear, the self and other, the individual and the global. Gulig’s second book embodies opposition—neither traditionally organized (lacking a visible narrative and stable, well-defined characters), nor traditionally composed (much of Orient’s text, as stated in the book’s notes, “do not belong to it,” being the fruits of “a yearlong process of transcription, (mis)translation, erasure, and collage”). And opposition, as both a practice and concept, is turned over and over throughout Orient. By looking at noise and sound (as they collide in human language), Gulig attempts to understand how we define ourselves and how we define others. In this way, the book becomes both a thing that speaks and a thing that listens. Orient exists in-between, its chiseled poems straddling the boundaries of the lyric essay and poetry.