Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Open Thread - 2009 Tri-State Chapbooks

Open Thread - 2009 Tri-State Chapbooks by Matt Anserello
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bookshelves: artists-books, poetry, encyclopedia-destructica

This is a boxset of 3 poetry chapbooks w/ the design apparently done by the ever-lovin' Encyclopedia Destructica of Pittsburgh. Reading this is both part of me paying attn to everything I can get my hands on published by ED & my continuing love/hate relationship w/ poetry in general.

The 1st bk, by Matt Anserello is called "Cloud-Shaped Room". It was probably the 'easiest' read for me of the 3 of them - wch made it somewhat likeable & at the same time a little disappointed b/c I didn't feel very challenged. The poetry is descriptive like sequences of little illustrations juxtaposed to create a sur-narrative. Take this example:

"Yes, Josher, Things Are Good

"Of course I'm nutso-gutso about love. And yes, the sea is a wonderful contraption. All those boats automatically floating to their destinations. I mean, can you imagine if my days at the slaughterhouse were over. And no more nights at the bar. I guess I could do without some scuzzy dude always giving me the hairy eyeball. I could stay home and settle for watching old episodes of Deal or No Deal. Not that I've ever asked the big questions. So why start now? Just lie back and think of America. I'm nothing more than a background torn from its stage, a pale field where my brother carries our dead dog under a sky of good-looking clouds just staying put. Even on this patio next to the fake lake I can't help but imagine my imaginary herd: hares, and deer, and sheep, and bees. Always bees. I'm feeling comfortable in this new role in which I seek to immediately invent the experiences I've already had. I'm going back inside to bury my hand in a pile of candy hearts in their heart-shaped bowl."

I like the way each sentence generally has a word that throws things slightly off-kilter. "nutso-gutso": is this actually a common expression? Was it EVER a common expression? I don't think so.. but it's close enuf to one to seem authentic w/o being clichéd. It's like "helter-skelter": hyphenated w/ rhyme. "the sea is a wonderful contraption": since "contraption" usually refers to something mechanical & since the sea is an embodiment of the biomorphic non-mechanical this throws things off again. Self-describing as "a background torn from its stage"? You get the idea.

The 2nd chapbook, Noah Falck's "Life as a Crossword Puzzle" cd be sd to be organized into 2 sections: 1st: 12 "Across" poems, 2nd: 12 "Down" poems. I'm a sucker for this type of organizational procedure - having a small bk of my own entitled "Puzzle Writing" [published by SCORE in WA state & probably OP:] & being a big enthusiast for the chess-related structured "Life A User's Manual" by Georges Perec. W/ that sd, I'm not sure that the organization here goes beyond lip-service. Then again, I didn't give it a close enuf read to be able to really evaluate that.

This doesn't keep me on my toes as much as the Anserello did. A few of the poems are like American suburban haikus - at least in terms of their brevity. Take the 1st of the "Downs":

"1. Down

"Outside the sun short-circuits,
the grass becomes a complicated mess

"and the boy studies
the lines on his father's face

"before shifting awkwardly
in a plastic yellow lawnchair."

In a way, it's unfair of me to pick this particular poem b/c it's probably my least favorite & one of the simplest.

Colin C. Post's "Aleph in the Cellar" is the 3rd & last chapbook here. Having the title refer to set theory's way of measuring the cardinalities of infinite sets is immediately appealing to me [if somewhat abbreviated by me here:]. The poems get longer & longer &, yet, as the tiel somewhat implies, are always ultimately infinite. One cd say that that's like the expression ".333... = .333343..." in the sense that while the 2nd part has more numbers written out the ellpsis at the end of each part shows that they both go on forever.

Here we get a little closer to what my GoodReads friend Eddie Watkins wrote in an exchange we had recently re the poetry of Clark Coolidge: "I can gather meaning from what I call pure lyricism - beautiful and/or interesting language that either totally ignores conventional meaning or only appears to be conveying conventional meaning" - sometimes the language seems almost straight-forward but then the potential banality of that is rescued by increasing abstraction.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 16, 2009 – Shelved
August 16, 2009 – Shelved as: artists-books
August 16, 2009 – Shelved as: poetry
August 16, 2009 – Finished Reading
August 17, 2009 – Shelved as: encyclopedia-destructica

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