Justin Katko, The Death of Pringle (flim forum press, 2012), 136 pp., $20.00—The tension between the polytonal, multi-genre “score” of this Gothic-comic opera on the accompanying cd and the all-caps “libretto” (with notes, commentary, drawings and images a la Donato Mancini’s Buffet World) might suggest that Katko’s real interest is more theatrical than poetry (performative, experimental or otherwise). But the sustained screed/scream of the writing (think of this book as multiple explosions of the calm, scientific dissections of Evelyn Reilly’s Styrofoam), as opposed to the alt-rock, country, punk, spoken word, slam and Giorno soundscapes, registers an urgency stripped of irony despite the hyper-technocratic lexicon and sarcastic asides.
Jean-Marie Gleize, Tarnac, A Preparatory Act. Ed: Joshua Clover. Trans.: Joshua Clover, Abigail Lang and Bonnie Roy (Kenning Editions, 2014), 168 pp., $14.95—On November 11, 2008, a hundred and sixty French policemen descended into the village of Tarnac and arrested nine individuals who were eventually charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, the act in question being sabotage of the rail system. Tarnac, the first major work by Jean-Marie Gleize to be translated into English (another volume is due to appear in 2015), confronts this case through the question of discourse, a "problem" at the heart of Gleize's “post-poetry,” developed from his initial concepts of littéralité and nudité, and later folded into the singular dispositif.
Colin Smith, 8 x 8 x 7 (Krupskaya Books, 2008), 89 pp., $14.00—I met Colin Smith in Vancouver at the Kootenay School in 2008 during the second “positions” conference. I was intrigued by the title of his book since I was about to publish a book of poetry (The Hero Project of the Century, 2009) that included a poem titled “< 6 By 9 V >6 By 9,” a blank page that referred, obviously, to any poem’s written parameters (its typed –as in typewriter—“original” was titled “8 ½ x 12”).
Gregory Kiewiet, In The Company of Words (Past Tents Press, 2006), 114 pp., $12.00; Lily Brown, Old With You (Kitchen Press, 2009), unpaginated, $7.00—Kiewiet’s first book is an interesting collection of styles, from straightforward narrative (which dominates the first quarter of the book) to more procedural, if not experimental, forms. The most successful of the longer sequences that dominate the book are “Foursomes” and “Rooms Without Locks.” The best of these are wry, semi-ironic commentaries on doubt and uncertainty (“Not for lack of purpose/ the ever-impending backwards glance/making it impossible/ to stir the soup and listen to the radio:/ Ravel or Satie?” Sometimes Kietwiet’s wit can be brittle to the point of sardonic, as demonstrated in this pithy paper cut from “Foursomes”: “Whose turn is it/ to love or leave?/ The acres of unanswered questions/ “’Cream or sugar’?”
Elena Rivera, On the Nature of Position and Tone (Fields Press, 2012), 35 pp.; Linda Russo, picturing everything closer visible (Projective Industries, 2013), 15 pp.—Rivera and Russo unearth and re-investigate the culture/nature problem in distinct but similar ways. And this has to do with the ways that nature is constructed in these two chapbooks. In both, the natural comes into existence as an object of knowledge (however defined) only in relation to artifice—first and foremost, to their writings but also to their places of residence — and to the artificial structures of culture. Rivera, who lives in New York City, wrote her chapbook as a kind of “sensual response” to her one-month residency at Djerassi, a multi-disciplinary artist commune southeast of San Francisco.