Void Sets[out of print]
Monster House Press
Published 26 May 2015
Poetry • MHP-012
35 pp • 5.5 x 8 • ♾
Michelle Gottschlich’s debut collection of poems bears an acute & tender hand toward the inscrutable nature of being. Engaged in the milieu of void sets (code elements that do not show in surface content) & employing interruption, (day)dream, & other fragmented mental activity as valid manifestations of voice, these poems evince & commune with the buried codes & elements of repressed & othered worlds. Embedded in a culture latent with cruelty & expectation, here are poems that make space for the beautiful aberrations found in the socially estranged realms of mental illness & gender nonconformity. Void Sets emits a harrowing & necessary glow, one that extends across the enigmatic chasm between persons & reveals forgotten corners, untouched depths: "The dream of mine / where you’re endless water / and I’m a tiny diver."
This book reminded me what it is that I love, that I love, in poems: I love witnessing a real person talking, or trying to talk, to a real person (who might live inside oneself, yes, I know). I love the actual yearning and sorrow and prayer that the voice calling out is. I want you to hear this. I want to ask you this question. It’s so goddamned beautiful and sad and true. Michelle Gottschlich’s Void Sets is like a long and lovely and heartbroken call. It’s an incredible book.
— Ross Gay
‘Void sets’ are the pieces of computer code that are not content: they indicate the presence of images, or provide a blank space; they offer, say, an italic shift; they bold. Michelle Gottschlich is bold: a smart questioner and comforter who spends equal time here talking to individuals (we listen in) and talking to herself (we identify): she’s talking to the reader like the reader has just finished saying something she urgently needs to respond to, in either direct or coded ways (there may be censors!)— “Do you think adults made us cruel?” she asks. It may be her directness that most distinguishes her, her refusal to avoid the difficult. Gottschlich wonders where a missed call went (and yes, that seems like a void set!) but she also has more patience for—and openness to—connection than the ‘hundreds of machines that mediate [her] life’ are designed to permit. She’s listening, she’s making content (out of discontent?) by exploring all the places contemporary culture likes to pretend there isn’t any.