Rodney's Reviews > Float

Float by David Abel
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's review
Jul 31, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry

A testament to the virtues of the longue durée, Float hauls up poems from the jetsam of our inattentions, returning quoted, found and procedurally generated language to a recursive economy of reading, writing, thinking, and perceiving. The book’s opening section, Conduction, merges twenty-six quotations from twenty-four writers with pithy, daybook-sized reflections that affirm erasure, exegesis and poesis as facets of the same creative act:

“Thinking about writing about having read what I wrote at some long-past moment—and not having access now to what was implied and (crucially) then adjacent—a ‘link,’ the loss of which transforms the actual function of the artifact that remains.”

That function—collecting something like a self from the mind’s adventures in text across time—drives the book’s other sections: Orbus Pictus, inspired by Comenius’s instructional picture-books for children, another genre in which words and world blur, and Times of Day, which funnels the attention, like in a zazen “sitting,” to single words and the slow changes they undergo in clusters. “My medium,” writes Abel, “is: traffic / congestion/ sprawl/ etcetera”—his gift is for registering their instants as “a passing wave, in its limitless demonstrations.”
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