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Pioneers in the Study

of Motion


In the courtship of global markets, “petrochemicals, folksongs, dayworkers, numeric strings” pass like glances between sweethearts.

Pioneers in the Study of Motion explores the restless politics and transient desires, the lovemaking and carpet bombings of the late twentieth century. Sometimes fieldnotes, sometimes love letters, these poems trace vertiginous circuits of citizens and capital from Kinshasa to Mexico City. The figures alluded to in these pieces—cartographers, archeologists, illustrators—bear witness to the difficulties of rendering cultures in transit.

Praise for Pioneers in the Study of Motion


“Amid a riot of signals, cranes, and circuitry—from Mexico City to Antarctica—the reader succumbs to a sense of non-stop construction, to the craven expansion of cities in the glistening fields. In the chaos of sensory overload, the poet still manages to detect ‘droplets of pollen slip from anther to stamen,’ to feel a stream running dry inside. It’s a work of shuddering velocity—an ode, a screed, a lament, a love song of ‘pristine and inarticulate mornings.’ Susan Briante’s Pioneers in the Study of Motion details the ravages of the world in a voracious struggle to savor its sweetness.”

—C.D. Wright

“Susan Briante brings vibrancy and precision to her image making with a language that thrives on sensual disclosures of subject matter and shifting after-effects of the unforgotten. Pioneers in the Study of Motion traces the unsettling of a life over geographies of what we leave behind, in forms of address at once alert to the vernacular of lyric thinking and to speculative pleasures that do not shy from accountability, aesthetic and ethical."

—Roberto Tejada


“This writing fractures, caesuras, and rends its way through a Mexican, American, international, indigenous present, achieving a density that, in language, works through our urban sign-loaded multidirectional scapes.”

—Clayton Eshleman





Erica Kaufman at The Poetry Project Newsletter


“Susan Briante’s full-length debut, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, is a lyric concerned with ethnographic importance, a work of architectural rigor that embraces the fluidity of culture while presenting a timely critique of globalization . . . . Her ambitious poems succeed in taking the reader through a vast highway of nativities, personas, and heritages….Pioneers in the Study of Motion is an active book, full of poems that spark thought, inspire research, and leave the reader craving more.”  


Dale Smith at Bookslut

“Her work here simply asks for reflection on the belief and desire that motivate these circumstances of change. As ‘pioneers’ we, her audience, must remain open to experience and to the perceptive force of attention. Where such attention is placed—and how it orients us to things—remains our greatest hope for understanding the forms we inhabit.”




SPD Books | Amazon

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