Oni Buchanan explores the problem of violence against the undefended, elemental self through a variety of emotional and linguistic responses. The violation itself is unspecified but involves the forced transformation from an instinctual, animal self, housed in the body and in the senses, into a socialized, time-based “citizen,” familiar with death, decay, and systemic injustice.
This exploration plays out through the twin challenges of perception and compassion. Perception can bind us to the known world or cut us loose in dangerous, horrific territory. Compassion for other creatures (wild or domesticated, and sometimes both) is born of perception, of the hard limits and surprising insights encountered by attending to the bodies, gestures, and plights of others.
In Must a Violence, the tones and personalities vary widely but trust is always placed in the five senses. These poems gather and relay extraordinary sense data, from inaudible sounds to long-absent smells. These deeply musical poems demand the reader attend to their sounds: to the waveforms, repetitions, durations, and delicate interrelationships of words.
In sounding out the problem of how to respond to violence and to the betrayal and domestication of that which is wild, this book counters with aesthetic violence and disruption of its own, opening the self to the unexpected powers of the senses and to encounters between "wildness" and "domestication" within the self. Though never easy, this openness creates the possibility for an all-enveloping love that touches and joins all animals, both nonhuman and human.