Spade by David Bromige & Rychard Denner
(Dpress, Sebastopol, Ca., 2006)
art is war by Anne Boyer
(mitzvah chaps, Lawrence, Ks., 2008)
The Romance of Happy Workers by Anne Boyer
(Coffeehouse Press, Minneapolis, Mn., 2008)
from The Tradition by Juliana Spahr
(Meritage Press, St. Helena & San Francisco, Ca., 2008)
no face by Judith Roitman
(First Intensity Books, Lawrence, Ks., 2008)
I want to recognize those who publish these books…mitzvah chaps, Dpress, First Intensity and Coffeehouse. They are the ones who print, pay, sew, color, write, mail work very hard, spend a lot and then give the books away again and again and again. Then they save more dollars and do it again. Ompah!!!
Spade. Here the first selection of a collaboration between Bromige and Denner and contains Cantos 1-33 of what became 100 Cantos. This book gives me great pleasure foremost because it was signed and handed to me by David Bromige during a recent visit in June. These two, Bromige and Denner spent great time together on a regular basis and this is the result. It is, as is said in the intro, a great conversation…a record of “…what was said between them…”. Now…not that we overhear what they said but that they choose and collected what was said. It is valuable in that sense to me to have the privilege to read and react. What is it about? Oh come on you know how it is to listen in to others…you know the airport full of cell phone conversations…nothing to recall. That here too. Sure but don’t ask me to tell you. I, personally, find it hysterical and sarcastic and fretful and unknown. It is, well, entertaining and newsworthy… ack! And it is timely, torn from the nightly news…back to you Katie. All that and more. Sure the bits about the Berkeley Poetry Conference are as if live from Comedy Central. And the Plato dialogs between DB and RD…and Iraq and cannibalism. It is talk, to say the least.
If nothing else…look for this…to see and read the possibilities. You know you have thought about collaborating with someone. Well, here it is. Find this book ( there is some on the web) and do not let it discourage your own attempt. Even if these guys nailed it, don’t let that get you down.
art is war. Has Ms. Boyer simply swept her desk clear of recentness and hereby collected into one slight albeit powerful chap? Fuck that could happen. Oh no not at all. Oh no. Not that. Here is some detail that is shared from the midland of Overland Park…overheard in Overland. In the pool. The pool of jean and daisy dukes. Of Sarge and Billy. Oh yeah. This is plan 54 from Boyer to upset the cart of known poetics with thoughts to recreate how we read…as example. She says:
“I have not included my many ideas about Stallions.
Sometimes I have edited my original ideas so as not to seem cruel.”
Get it? Go ahead and shave a cat, inject a pore, plant fur or dead people. Get it done however possible it can be. Publish and perish. The deal is you have to have a sense of humor. Is that a whale on the cover? Ms. Boyer does indeed have a way. You should discover that at first. It don’t cost a whole lot. You can do it if you try. And don’t, no don’t ever, ask me to explain any……….
The Romance of Happy Workers. Oh wait. Here is another Anne Boyer collection with the pig and snake on cover. What can that be? Diane Wakoski says it's "Post-Newtonian physics and Hermes Trismegistus.”
But that’s in a back cover blurb and surely doesn’t count, does it? Fuck me. Look, I just read the stuff. Half the time I don’t get it, you know. Like I have any idea what is referenced? You do? Bull. “raise high the roof beams” Do you really know why that is in quotes? So what…it looks cool to me and important and it sounds different in my head. So that’s it. Thanks Anne. No really. That is what does it for me , here. All of it that comes before and after. This is a poet here, boys and girls. We know that now. And who, yes who else might say, in opening stanza: “Nothing, too, is a subject:/dusk regulating the blankery./Fill in the nightish sky with ardent,/fill in the metaphorical smell.” Who.
The thing is this you can read and hear and recollect and that is what it does. You don’t need me to tell you “what it all means” or why it is “this or that” or “not flarfh”. Blah blah.
I don’t do this much because I value what I do when I do do this. Anne Boyer you should read. A lot.
from The Tradition. This is a tiny book, one inch square, covered in Guatemalan material. A blank book filled in by hand as a medieval might have done, but in this case the Saint in St. Helena has handwritten a poem by Juliana Spahr. But first, it is always for me a thrill to receive a book in the mail. To open the envelope and in this case the little book falls out and I seem to smell wood smoke. That probably picked up from the cover, my memories of Guatemala. Maybe and maybe not. Still the have a book in the palm of your hand has to be a rush…and is. The work is amazing…the words or sometimes a word to a page…colored…drawn in some font known only to the drawer the writer…placed on the page in a way that draws a reader to stop and recognize what is written.
“I want to begin this by telling you who I am.”
Now that is an opening to any poem. Enough to keep you turned to see what comes and who it is, perhaps. Or not. Perhaps enough to find what follows if anything. There is much in little here…the little pages in a little book. I have absolutely nothing to compare with this book…having not read Ms. Spahr only seen the name. Without that prior knowledge…I have only what is in this tiny book. Strong stuff for sure and pleasure in reading what Ms. Spahr is thinking and how that comes through to the books end. There is no way to tell you except point you to it.
no face by Judith Roitman has arrived from around the corner and across town. A local book for sure. And a cover that is so full of puns that I can hardly find time to turn the page and then to find this in opening line of opening text:
“What is the unit here and how can we find it? People who can’t
decode reading but can talk, and others who can’t talk but
make sounds anyway…”
Count me in the latter.
“She begins with lotus seeds.
She ended with wireless.
That’s how she got rid of everything.”
Could be the future for all of us should we pay attention to Ms. Roitman.
Here is the poet who moves through style and substance with ease and who knows what else come from staring at walls and chalkboards.
“He likes my mind I do not like my mind
constrained and trailing flowers the
luminous archetype like skin separating
and coming together.”
You may find this the first sign of Ms. Reitman’s poetics…she pays the price of living, poetically, a long ways from view. Her choice and a good one given the results. One hopes this publication gives her a wider audience.
Ms. Roitman deserves all the collection she has had made here..it is much and can be sampled for a very long time…believe me….and to have it is great. To have heard it over a long period is priceless.
Jim McCrary's Bio: Living in Lawrence, Ks...where the air is heavy with summer heat. In process of editing a "collected" poems which should see print in early fall. Working on long, epic Kansas poem featuring illigial asian immagrant transvestite working at Tyson chicken "rendering" plant in Salina. Ho hum. Most recent publications include Being Frida Kahlo, a chapbook from Really Old Gringo Press (also available as video on Contential Review website).