Of Beings Alone : The Eigenface

Bio: Lissa Wolsak ~  Poet, goldsmith and
practitioner of Energy Psychology in
Vancouver, B.C., Lissa is the author
of The Garcia Family Co-Mercy;
Pen Chants, or nth or 12 Spirit-like
; A Defence of Being;
An Heuristic Prolusion
; Squeezed Light:
Collected Works 1995 – 2004
and forthcoming long-poems Thrall;

Of Beings Alone
Of Beings Alone: The Eigenface
by Lissa Wolsak. In a specially designed envelope 72pp, $20.
Designed by Jeff Sanner. ISBN 978-0-9891861-7-9

Many brilliant works of art are two-toned; consider the upbeat melody to Charles Mingus’s “Fables of Faubus,” an otherwise bitter screed against segregation and racism. Or consider the chirpy sound of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride,” a song about loss. Lissa Wolsak’s stern jeremiad against contemporary two-facedness and cruel grasping after material well-being gets orchestrated in the joyful noise of a vocabulary unlike that of any other poet. The surface sound of delight mixes with under- and overtones of excoriation against what she calls “The Eigenface” or “mean face” of our time. Her message is bracingly pure, but the language is blessedly mongrel.


Lissa Wolsak’s work is remarkably constant and changing, transcendent and quotidian. She burst onto the literary scene, creating in mid-life an entirely original poetry that brought together a practice that in Paul Celan’s words, “Came a word . . . / through the night, / wanted to glow, wanted to glow,” and Lorine Niedecker’s injunction, “To give heat” as being “within / the control of / every human being.“  Haunted with the visage of the Eigenface, glossed by Wolsak as “the ‘mean’ face,” that is the “face of all faces,” Wolsak in Of Beings Alone interjects into her poetry the disappointment of our present time, compelled as it is by capitalism’s bottom line and the “mean” face it has acquired. Refusing to sentimentalize alienation or delineate dystopia, Wolsak creates a poetry of words that glow and create heat:  “some numbness of presence / an unutterable virtuosity/ spectacularized our being.”  At some point in Western culture, psychology, philosophy and religion became ineluctably divided.  Wolsak draws them together in a writing relentlessly alert to its own moment. That work can only be read at the depths on which it insists, and by those who would engage this annealing. Of Beings Alone and its Eigenface stares us down, leaving us no space, or all the space we would ever want.

Jeanne Heuving, author of The Transmutation of Love in Avant-Garde Poetics and Transducer


Quotation from book:


the chutzpadiks walk

in collective musical insight

taking ebullient

inexplicit leaps

to remain sovereign and


it was that one word ..