The Ritualites is Michael Nardone’s book-length poem–the first in a series of planned works–on the sonic topography of North America.
Composed at sites all across the continent—from Far Rockaway to the Olympic Peninsula, Great Bear Lake to the Gulf of California—the book documents the poet’s listening amid our public exchanges, mediated ambiances, and itinerant intimacies. The Ritualites is a series of linguistic rituals that shift, page to page, through a range of forms and genres—a rhapsodic text for occasional singing and a best-selling thriller, a self-help guide and sabotage manual, a score for solo performance and a cacophony of voices.
Praise for The Ritualites:
“Nardone’s poetry unsettles territories as it roves through the continent, documenting the neon signs and the billboards, the dinner table conversations, and the overheard terrors of everyday Americana. The book orchestrates unlikely and compelling movements between abstracted, parodic narrative and lyric elegy, which Nardone writes as modulated, cerebral laments for an era’s failure to reach utopia. The poems map what we drive towards, driven mad, driving round the bends in form and through the American landscape— from Pennsylvania to South Dakota to Nevada. Witnessing geographic movement as a kind of living trespass, The Ritualites impressed upon me the need for re-tuning poetry’s ethnographic ear, for transposing attention away from calcified ‘identity’ and toward living, throbbing practices of civilian life across the United States.
Nardone’s verses seem to take their cue from Muriel Rukeyser’s citational, attentive documentation of the embodied devastations of corporatized and industrialized belts. In his parodic, aloof prose, the critical lathe seems poised to spin Lisa Robertson’s claim in her succinct poem “Envoy”: “analysis too is a style of affect.” Episodic and variegated, the book’s many voices are by turns ventriloquial and verisimilitudinous— sometimes welcoming a careful and attuned ear, sometimes shunning it; sometimes asking for sympathetic leaning, sometimes ironic distance. This is a book that wants the reader to be many-splendored and nimble. My hope has always been for poets to subscribe not to movements or schools of aesthetics, but to be the bearers of urgent form— form as a thing to be broken and held close, at once. Nardone’s collection seems to carry that urgency, seems to know artifice for what it is—a holding pattern for thought’s flight, so it can land in a stranger place, further, always, from the comforts of habit and home.”
–Divya Victor, author of Kith
“Transcription precedes essence. Michael Nardone’s The Ritualites explores writing as an interface for the found’s sounds, made new by his ingenious and generative ear, novel forms, and wry sense of humours.”
–Charles Bernstein, author of Near/Miss
“The Ritualites is a spellbinding collection of North America’s sonic architecture and Nardone is a poet of its topologies, listening to the air when the body stops. The Ritualites is the jukebox of place; embodied leakages of the night, the shout, the cry and the laughter. A poetics of what language lays bare: little panic breaths, sound permitted in a cell. In The Ritualites, Nardone reminds us that language is wielded and listening is a verb.”
–Jordan Scott, author of Night & Ox
Press Coverage for The Ritualites:
Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Poetry Preview —49th Shelf
Reclaiming the Rituals of Sonic Space: A Review of Michael Nardone’s The Ritualites —Mark Grenon, Hamilton Review of Books
“There is an urgency to these poems, one that attempts both an order and the acknowledgment of a lack of that same order, shifting back and forth throughout.” —rob mclennan’s blog
“Nardone’s lines are more dense and fragmented, but they always reflect back the reader’s own paranoid compulsion to connect, poetically, these shards of the unnoticed world.” —Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press
“Nardone has taken the concept of the poetic ear and concretized it through his ambitious experiment in listening and documentation. The effect is a work of multifaceted complexity that rewards myriad interpretations.” —Marcela Huerta, Montreal Review of Books
Michael Nardone is the author of The Ritualites (2018) and Transaction Record (2014). He is a postdoctoral fellow in the département des littératures de langue française at the Université de Montréal, and an affiliated faculty member at the Centre for Expanded Poetics, Concordia University. Born in Pennsylvania, Nardone has lived and worked in Boston, Varanasi, Berlin, and Yellowknife. His writings, dialogues, and editorial projects have been published widely and are archived at http://soundobject.net. He lives in Montreal.