The Caedmon Room IV


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.

 

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Andrew Mister

Hotels.

Fewer & Further Press 

http://www.fewfurpress.blogspot.com

 

There’s something that is so recognizable & yet hard to annotate in the tone of Andrew Mister’s work.  There’s a bit of James Schuyler in the way Mister is able to, again & again, craft poems that find the bright side without making it seem like they’re finding the bright side, poems that are straightforward & clear acts of gratitude, simple acknowledgements communicated without succumbing to the disjunctive syntax or ironic posturing that mars so much of contemporary poetry.

Hotels, in an equally clear-headed and clear-hearted design by Jess Mynes and his vitally important Fewer & Further Press, presents poem after poem of Mister piecing something together, developing it as the poem develops disarmingly.  Consider the end of “Comfort Inn” as a good précis to Mister’s work:

We are so lucky

                                    to be here

 

            We are so lucky to be standing here

 

                        We are so lucky

                                                            to be standing

This sequence is stunning on so many levels.  Notice the way that each tumbling line adds a different perspective on the same base; notice the way the stumbling momentum itself serves to engage the reader almost physically, jerking our way toward a revelation that is both humble & epiphanic.

Hotels is full of poems that are so recognizably human it’s almost painful and, of course, amazingly beautiful. Painful to realize we live in a world where we are forced to take comfort in lives that are nothing more than “15 boxes of books,” and beautiful to realize that it’s enough, that “[t]he light loosened / into an embrace” can still make the difference.

 

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The Caedmon Room III


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Erica Kaufman, Censory Impulse.

Big Game Books

http://www.reenhead.com/biggame/biggame.html

 

 

The self is accumulated, constructed by the thoughts & actions of our life as it is lived, & Kaufman is able to present this quotidian reality as anything but thanks to the shockingly clear & unadorned language of the poems in her book Censory Impulse.  Here, the reader confronts a speaker whose consciousness evolves in a traceable way, & in a process that is deeply human:

 

                        so let’s talk.  about something.

                        deep and wonderful.

                                                                        (4.3)

 

You can almost hear the rush of childish enthusiasm in the first sentence, that pure drive for communication, clarified with an equally naïve suggested topic (“something”).  What drives this book far into your head where it can resonate with the weight & essence of its sheer accuracy is its piercing clarity.  All we need to do is talk, just talk, & it will be “deep and wonderful.”

 

These kinds of insights abound in Censory Impulse, which makes the book more like a reminder than news from the frontline.  I’m more comfortable here than I am in most books, because there is a way in which I become the speaker.  Without an overwhelming “I,” or a syntax aiming more to dazzle than delight, Kaufman is able to create a kind of participatory poetry.  The insights enacted here are mine, too, since they are laid out like math problems with all but the answers chalked in.

The Caedmon Room II–Nate Pritts’ Chapbook Reviews


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.

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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 […]

                                                                        (C—)

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.

Cover, THE WAY BIRDS BECOME

The Caedmon Room–Nate Pritts’ Chapbook Reviews


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.

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Maryrose Larkin, inverse.

nine muses books. mw9muses@teleport.com

  

Built out of obsessive clarifications & a desperate compulsion to reference, to provide support for, inverse presents the reader with an almost completely effaced speaker whose main concern is the attempt to know & communicate.  Rather than residing in the self & structuring that self around & through the perceptions of a central consciousness, the poem(s) takes as its subject the very logic of knowing.  When we read the phrase “between theories waking life” we’re forced to understand that this work is asking us to integrate our capacities for “logic” & “reason” in the Romantic sense – our abilities to think & feel.

Throughout, the provisional nature of knowledge is what seems to be under the most scrutiny; if the speaker has to go to such great lengths to accurately articulate anything, then is knowledge itself flawed.  Is knowing something helpful or even necessary?

                        The name of this intersection is frost broken up

                        heavy spar reign heavy phrase ravishment

                                                    strands careening

                        let us unfurl instead: weather

                                                   see also river

                        see also    self and the less restricted sense

I’d have a hard time tracing what the speaker is getting at here, in the traditional sense, but if we give up on that, of ever knowing exactly what, then I think we’re closer to the point.  Larkin’s project here seems to be the interrogation of knowledge, creating the sense that we can achieve a larger scale of perception both through intellect & outside of it.  “Come,” the poem tells us:

                        […]                  expound           breath intelligible

                        come shine

                        come abound unfold in  and about go

Cover, Inverse