Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > The Sticky Suit Whirs: Los Preolvidados

The Sticky Suit Whirs by John Bennett
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John M. Bennett's The Sticky Suit Whirs: Los Preolvidados
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - April 25, 2015

John M. Bennett's body of poetry is like a glacier. It's huge, he's prolific, anyone on his mailing list gets 3 to 6 poems from him a day, anyone on the Spidertangle VisPo list-serv gets those same poems daily. The form of the poems change very slowly over the yrs. A poem of his 20 yrs ago might've been hand-written w/ a special spidery hand-writing. Today they're usually written using a computer. So they're like a glacier, huge & slow-moving.

Now that he writes in Spanish almost as much as he does in English the writing's more like 2 glaciers. Someday you might look out yr window & see a glacier to the North w/ "The Sticky Suit Whirs" written on it & another to the South w/ " Los Preolvidados" written on it. But that won't mark the End Times, it'll mark the Lost & Found Times.

The Lost & Found Times was the name of the magazine that Bennett published from 1975 to 1998 (& beyond?). There's a marvelous anthology from those called Loose Watch published by Invisible Books. Highly recommended.

Bennett's work & his editorial inclinations combine the influence of Dadaism, Surrealism, Sound Poetry, Visual Poetry, Mail Art, Language Poetry, & the kind of visceral humor that one might expect from a parent who spends a fair amt of time changing diapers or a worker in a hospital or a nursing home who embraces the flatulence & pustulence for its vividness. As such, if Post-Modernism is an eclectic combination of preceding theories & movements, one might call Bennett's work "Post-Modern".

Is he, therefore, in the Paul Hoover edited Postmodern American Poetry - A Norton Anthology? Nope. How about the Jerome Rothenberg & Pierre Joris edited Poems for the Millennium - Volume Two: From Postwar to Millennium? Nope. This isn't to say that they aren't both excellent anthologies but I do tend to think that there's often a prejudice against Mail Artists for being 'too' inclusive & a prejudice against people living in smaller American towns that AREN'T NYC or the West Coast.

Bennett lives in Columbus, OH - who cares, right? But, of course, one of the reasons why there're Mail Artists in smaller towns is so that they can carry on international correspondence w/o having to tolerate the crowded conditions of bigger cities or to pay the exorbitant living expenses of NYC or SF or Toronto.

I've reviewed 3 bks of Bennett's already: John M. Bennett & Bruce Andrews's Joint Words ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ), Bennett's Milk ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... ), & Bennett's La Vista Gancha ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... ).

Ultimately, I prefer writers who change their writing technique to reflect the central idea(s) of the work - w/ these central Ideas changing for every new work. That eliminates, by far, most writers. Bennett does tend to have trademark characteristics that didn't necessarily originate w/ him but wch he concentrates on in a very focused way. Take, eg, the 1st 5 lines of the 1st poem in this bk:

"elimination storm cuzzle late s
ock fold blinky t ,ape sugar
fasted in ,faster slope runt
bang a bang .a lipper goop m
ule bray ing the wheeze l"

The 1st line ends w/ "s" & the 2nd begins w/ "ock" - the line break occurs mid-word. Having heard recordings of Bennett's reading many times I mentally hear his aggressive pronunciation, the alliteration of stutters & pauses as sound poetry. The middle of the 2nd line has a characteristic Bennett device: the placing of punctuation where it wdn't ordinarily go in its usual function. Here we have the word "tape" broken into "t" & "ape" w/ the "ape" beginning w/ a comma rather than the "t" ending w/ one. That problematizes the reader's reading. A casual reader might ignore it. A reader such as myself who accepts the challenge at least tries to imagine what a pause at the beginning of a word or a word-fragment might sound like. "faster", in the 3rd line, also begins w/ a comma & then there's ".a lipper".

In general, Bennett's 'punctuation' seems to serve more as visual poetry than as indicators of compartmentalization. The poem on p 62, eg, is titled ")". The next appearance of a close-parenthesis consists of 2 adjacent to each other, then 3, then 4, then 5. There's a progression but there's no open-parenthesis. In the same poem the capital "O" is written 'O' 1st & then [O]. "wasn't" becomes "wa,s,n't". I'm not sure Bennett articulates these sorts of abnormalities in a systematic way in every reading. I tend to think that he explores them spontaneously as sound poetry interruptions to conventional reading flow.

Much of the writing, for me, is viscerally imagistic w/o relying on context to give it meaning. Hence we have in the 1st poem "ruse or heavy wiping mean", wch is ambiguous as to what sort of "wiping" might be referred to, & "place )neck ((( green stool's teaming p ile my" - p 59 wch might refer to a green stool that one sits on or a green stool that one shits out &

"turated was ,that su
pperated bright bead
oozed 00ticking(( the" - p 60

wch might refer to a suppuration that oozes.. or, as in language poetry, there might be a process initiated in the reader that's not necessarily definitive as reference but, rather, infinitive as non-finite verb forms. Bennett's a slippery character:

"the dingle mot ,h ,ot
her all was ,indyclept" - p 45

The reader might get "moth" or "hot" or "mother" or "other" or "her". None wd be 'right', none wd be 'wrong'. The intermingling of 2 languages adds another layer of ambiguity:


"junk an clapping ,senda
way torn s hr oud ,ackt
pile hem porglosero ,fl
ender prim e g g rime me
ans o ne)kkid na(da ño
,the haw lobe ¡ chew so
r did knot ,heng lumbps
deflappy when ,spray an
born ,loud black miles
"when" o pulgateca glo
lawn groped the es)ca
(lera f l o j a" - p 8

I recommend this bk to all readers who don't speak English or Spanish.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 25, 2015 – Shelved
April 25, 2015 – Shelved as: poetry
April 25, 2015 – Finished Reading

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