Time. It seems always in deficiency when we catch up with friends. We speak colloquially of needing more of it — “Where has the time gone?” It runs off when we aren’t looking. But what if we were to look at it, relentlessly, with nearly unblinking attention? Could we hold onto it then?
Lawrence Giffin’s Ex Tempore (TROLLTHREAD 2011) seeks to attend to time by capturing the constantly transient instant of composition. The book begins with a short preface, allegedly identifying the exact moment that Giffin began writing his text.
Lawrence Giffin has done and said some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen or heard in poetry. His readings always feel to me like they walk along a fine line between uproarious and deeply critical. I can’t say exactly what they are critical of, because I can never quite tell. Is he making fun of poetry? himself for writing it? And this hilarious criticality comes in the package of always impressive, sometimes tour-de-force writing. There is clearly love for the art in his work — he works hard and that is a kind of love — but there also always seems to me a chasm of critical distance between Giffin and whatever he’s saying. And that chasm is often where the uproarious happens.