An SPD #1 Best Seller
Greenstreet’s highly original case sensitive posits a female central character who writes chapbooks that become the sections in this book. “What happens in the book I want to read?” Greenstreet asked herself. “And how would it sound?” Everything the character is reading, remembering, and dreaming turns up in what she writes, duly referenced with notes. Using natural language charged with concision and precise syntax, Greenstreet has created a memorable and lasting first collection.
“A life lived at the peripheries is partially cut open into tiny chapters that are then tugged off-camera between erasure and restoration, as an unexplained house awaits its occupant on the opposite coast. This book collects that distance through which the driver-writer hears her own randomness speak, en route, with explicit acuity and fragmented instruction, as if narrated via a brain-fever collage of loving/warning mentors—M. Curie, Modersohn-Becker, and L. Niedecker, for a start. Entering and underscoring these fugal compressions is the ‘lower limit’ of an ongoing mystery story vernacularized through her car’s CD speakers. The result is a poem intrigue of the highest order. Greenstreet has made a brilliant beginning with this first book.” —Kathleen Fraser
“A beautiful dwelling of ideas. case sensitive suggests that there need be no divide between the associative connections of poetry and the extended thinking of the essay. This is a book full of luminous footnotes, details, and attentive readings. It strings together a series of moments to create something resonate, large, and inclusive.” —Juliana Spahr
7 [raises the boiling point] (from "Salt")
She’s just there.
What do you mean “What’s the deal?”
You can spend a long time not doing something.
To lean towards. Also, take care of.
There’ll be something.
That’s how it was last time.
You start by breaking it down.
It just stinks.
It’s the order,
in a sentence.
We expect the words to come to us,
in a certain order.
I don’t know the answer.
I was young.
It was essential to keep my mother going.
I’m not trying to be hidden, but it’s natural.
A story has to leave out nearly everything or nobody can follow it.
Copyright © 2006 by Kate Greenstreet
I try to stay close to large bodies of water. I was born in Chicago, grew up in the east (NY, NJ, PA), and lived for a couple of decades on the west coast (CA, OR, WA). I’ve moved around a lot, looking for home.
I make various kinds of visual art and currently earn a living doing graphic design. I have a BA from Goddard College in VT, and I received a poetry fellowship from the NJ State Council for the Arts in 2003. I’m married and I like to walk. I have no children or pets. My parents are dead. I have a sister and three brothers living.
case sensitive is my second manuscript. I compressed the first one into a chapbook called Learning the Language, which was published by Etherdome Press in 2005. Right now I’m finishing my third, The Last 4 Things.
Since web design is one of the things I do for work, it was natural for me to build a site for myself when my chapbook came out. It was just a step from there to blogging. I give the blog address (www.kickingwind.com) as my “about the author” on the cover because it’s the best place to get a sense of my interests and concerns.
I love the internet. I’ve had many poems published in online journals (can we have our ball back?, Diagram, Fascicle, Free Verse, GutCult, Kulture Vulture, MiPOesias, No Tell Motel, Octopus, TYPO, and Word For/Word among them). I don’t support the notion that print is superior. That said, half of the money I make seems to go on books and journal subscriptions! Print journals that have published my work include 26, Barrow Street, Bird Dog, CARVE, Conduit, CutBank, LIT, The Massachusetts Review, POOL, RHINO, the tiny, and XANTIPPE.
I’m the kind of person who, attempting to write an autobiographical sketch, loses hours picturing childhood streets, the walk to school, the women hanging laundry on the clotheslines stretched between apartment buildings. But this is just a sketch, right? I got the idea from my father that life is a series of books. He often used the expression “That book is closed.”
A woman is driving across the country. She has experienced a fracture in her life, a sudden opportunity. Her traveling companions: two books of Lorine Niedecker’s letters, writings of Agnes Martin, the letters and journals of Paula Modersohn-Becker, a biography of Marie Curie, and a collection of interviews with Louise Bourgeois. As she drives, she’s listening to a novel, a mystery. When she stops to eat, she brings a book into the truckstop with her, also her journal. Writing down some of her thinking from the past 50 miles, she is reminded of a comment of Modersohn-Becker’s to Rilke, which soon shares the page with observations about radium and a few scraps of conversation from the neighboring booth. Poems arise.
case sensitive is a narrative experiment. I had a character in mind. I thought about her. She thought about me. We were in it together. I had a question. Or two. What happens in the book I want to read? And: how would it sound?
case sensitive is a book of poetry. It’s made of five separate chapbooks—the handmade chapbooks of the character. She is not a narrative poet. But her chapbooks, taken together, can tell a kind of story.
“Is she hearing voices?” (someone asked me). Only in the sense that we all are, all the time. I used the interruption of footnote numbers and the notes pages between chapbooks to underscore her constant referencing to what she’s reading, listening to, remembering.
If a mystery is essentially concerned with what people have done and, in a narrow sense, why, I tried to write the opposite of a mystery. There is a minimum of plot. What eventually interested me most was a third question, one that emerged as I wrote: what was she like?
I was pleased when two new friends read the manuscript and each expressed envy at my luck, as if the character’s good fortune had been mine. “It’s fiction,” I said. And they seemed unconvinced.