Monday, January 16, 2012

Jason Dewinetz, CLENCH


Driving at night an odd surge of vertigo. The car
is floating, but not quite. The tires just touching,
whispering to the concrete. With each rise & fall
in the road, the car may lift off, may glance off the
asphalt and into telephone pole or hillside, or off the
release of cliff. And you drive, gripping. It might lift
away into air, out of control. And so you ease down
on the gas, grip the wheel tighter, hoping.
Given all of his work over the past decade or so as publisher, editor, designer and printer of the magnificent Greenboathouse, one can certainly understand why Vernon, British Columbia poet Jason Dewinetz hasn't published much over the past few years. Dewinetz is the author of the poetry chapbook The Gift of a Good Knife (Victoria BC: Outlaw Editions, 2000) and the trade poetry collection moving to the clear (Edmonton AB: NeWest Press, 2002), the latter also including his chapbooks Géricault’s Severed Limbs Paintings (Vernon/Victoria BC: Greenboathouse Books, 1999) and In Theory (Ottawa ON: above/ground press, 2002), and now, after years of relative silence, the chapbook CLENCH (Kentville NS: Gaspereau Press, 2011), which appears as part of their “Devil's Whim Occasional Chapbook Series.” Where some of Dewinetz's earlier work, such as the magnificent The Gift of a Good Knife felt far grittier and physical, highlighting influence by poets such as Patrick Lane and Robert Kroetsch, this new work is far more polished, sleek, while remaining quietly meditative on complex subjects. In the twelve short poems that make up CLENCH, Dewinetz has become more contemplative of ordinary things, writing poems that have moved from exploring the self and the outdoors to more domestic subjects, from migraines to a friend's dog to oral hygiene to the last line of “27 HOURS AFTER YOUR LAST MIGRANE,” writing “It's bright / in here all the time and she won't take her clothes off / unless the lights are out.” And, given the limited-edition of the graceful collection, one can hope it exists as but a sly teaser for something larger to appear, soon. One can only hope.

You both wrestle for language, struggling for arm-holds
and pressure points. You will pin her down, run a
finger-tip across the hollow of her throat, trace sternum,
draw and quarter her with your hands. Wound like a
wind storm. Tight as a snake.

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