It occurs to me that I haven’t done one of these in a while, and the incoming chapbooks are beginning to pile up.
And don’t forget about the upcoming fall edition of the ottawa small press book fair! I’ll also be manning a table of above/ground press items at Meet thePresses in Toronto in a couple of weeks. Might I see you at either of these?
And congratulations again to this year’s shortlist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award! Thrilled to see above/ground press titles by Renée Sarojini Saklikar and Dana Claxton getting further attention.
Toronto ON: American poet, critic, editor and publisher Dale Smith’s first Canadian publication (he and partner Hoa Nguyen relocated from Texas to Toronto with their two boys in 2011) is the chapbook Sons (Knife Fork Book, 2017), a sequence of intimate and untitled fragments that focus on the immediacy of parenting:
Spiny lizard on yucca
Bury spade in clay
Scoop it watch him
Scrape with plastic toy
The ground gives
Loosen its roots
Pat warm dirt and mulch
Composed out of hesitations, breath and an attention to the most elusive of moments, Smith writes out a sequence of meditative fragments include the awareness of being attentive to the requirements of and anxieties around fathering two boys: “Show them / A man / What that could be [.]” There is such a care carved into these short lines and phrases, one created out of such intimacy, deep love and attention, with neither a word nor sentiment not set exactly how and where they should be.
Will there be fish to eat
With a lightness
Will our children
An ancient question
And terror of not
Living up to what
The many tides of people
In us have made
Grand Rapids MI/Athens GA: From Georgia poet Jake Syersak comes the new chapbook NEOCOLOGISM: A TRIO OF ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRIES FOR TREADING THE ANTHROPO-SCENIC PSYCHE (2017), produced through Michael Sikkema’s Shirt Pocket Press. In case you haven’t noticed, Syersak has been releasing a flurry of chapbooks lately (including one with above/ground press), and there is an enormous amount going on in this new work of accumulated fragments, prose sections and lyric aggregations that evolve into a particular kind of essay-poem. I find Syersak’s chapbooks-to-date absolutely fascinating, and he’s clearly working with longer forms than the chapbook-length work, which make me curious to see what his eventual full-length collections will look like.
You told me that the NY Times says The Apple Corporation is using Picasso’s le Taureau (an 11-lithograph sequence showing the evolution of a bull’s being built in the cubist mode) to exemplify, in some way or another, how business trends toward the ergonomic, simplistic, are not only inevitable but high-brow, academically-sound. Endearing, somewhat, I thought, but I couldn’t help but ask, evolution’s a ha-ha eyeing its beholder when you own the rights prescribing it, right? You told me, “you can unwind oblivion or a sketchist’s wrist only in so far as the m-dash of its original animal ache.” & unwinding the voilà of a rose reveals?—“what the rose is: voilà, revolting.”
sometimes you turn into
you can’t believe
until belief bends
into a becoming thing.
I sleep next to this laundry
because I hate to hang old phantoms.
Ina recent interview posted at Ghost Proposal, while discussing the forthcoming chapbook Impressions in the Language of a Lantern’s Wick, which they also published, Syersak responds:
I blame the LANGUAGE poets for creating the mentality that poetry is somehow nothing more than a “game” to be played. There are too many life / death ramifications evident in language pervading our culture to think like that. Looking back, I actually think now that this book (what’s now the last section to a larger collection called Yield Architecture) was my attempt to purge the influence of LANGUAGE poetry from my own poetics. My poems will always be haunted by their influence, but I hope it endures as some centrifuge of sabotage, maybe through the formless material you cite that manifests through sensation.