Editor’s Note: Nate Pritts is the author of Sensational Spectacular (BlazeVOX) & the recent chapbook Shrug (MSR Press). His new book, Honorary Astronaut, will be out from Ghost Road Press in the fall of 2008. The editor of H_NGM_N, Nate works in advertising. You can find him online at http://www.natepritts.com.
Joseph Bradshaw, The Way Birds Become.
Weather Press. http://weatherpress.blogspot.com
One of the most focused and fully realized books I’ve read in a long time, Bradshaw’s The Way Birds Become is an aesthetic project that far surpasses the constraints it sets for itself. Each poem begins with or builds from a line captured from another writer’s poem & the effect of this cacophonous chirping is surprisingly unified; even with these poems “all broken, singing / different songs” the reader gets a sense of one epic movement. The pleasure here is tied generally to two effects: 1) that of seeing theory/constraint put into practice successfully & 2) that of following the workings of one mind on a single, & constantly blooming, topic.
In practice, each of these poems are full of mysterious aphorisms, hazy folk wisdom from the back of the brain that feels right:
If you look out a window from within a bird
you’ll be frightened by the idea
that it’s an eye […]
That’s mostly how these poems develop, direct statements with syntactic or grammatical clauses added that either clarify or change the underlying ideas. These poems are almost devoid of ego; though occasionally they seem to reference something particular – some moment recollected or some situational emotion – the stakes here are decidedly processual, in motion, each poem presented as “evidence / of a sounding.” Even without the development or intimacies of an easily locatable “I” speaker, the poems here are conversational, visionary without all the heady pronouncements & unapproachable exteriors.
Bradshaw ends the poem “E—Hitchcock, The Birds (1963)” with a kind of explanation / apologia for the collection as a whole:
[…] birds become roads after they’re
transformed into and from the weather they once forecasted.
The Way Birds Become exists in the balance of inspiration & impulse, & demonstrates that the surest way inside can be facilitated by forces from the outside.