Friday, May 25, 2018

Jake Syersak, Yield Architecture

“Architecture as establishing moving relationships with raw materials” streams from Corbusier’s jaw as if it were its own internal dwelling, a thing, as in: the marriage of the & ing. Something kingly as coming to the agreement an airplane’s in flight, though it’s a flighty background sews the eye through the usefulness of jets’ eyelets. What forwards this I through this—through any—environment is recognizing the design the raw moves on moves on. So I’m looking over the cast of lines: of life, motion, & the narrative kind—all the outliers we work in to affront. Will that affluent taste of fluency, squeegeed across a window tongue, Niagra into any fountained clarity? What physical insight this might justify, I’m unsure. Wolves swill into these fingerprints as easily as conversation eats them. But if crowning the integrity of building’s all we can amount to, best to follow those fault lines religiously. (“Skins, Skeins, History, Hysteria & Dust”)

Officially released this past March, on my forty-eighth birthday, no less (thanks, Jake!) is Athens, Georgia poet, editor and publisher Jake Syersak’s first full-length poetry title, Yield Architecture (Portland OR: Burnside Review Press, 2018), a book that follows a small handful of chapbooks produced by presses such as above/ground press and Shirt Pocket Press. Set in four self-contained sections—“Skins, Skeins, History, Hysteria & Dust,” “Soldered Opposite of Weather Was Yourself,” “Fractal Noises from the Foliage” and “Impressions in the Language of a Lantern’s Wick” (which appeared previously as a chapbook with Ghost Proposal in 2016)—Syersak’s Yield Architecture does give the sense of both a critical essay, and a poetry composed of fault lines, assembled in such a way as to tremble, pull apart and rattle against each other when required. Composed as an assemblage and sequence of direct statements, notes, sketched-out lines, lyrics, prose poems and pulled-apart sentence structures, the poems both challenge and give way, effecting a yield, even, against itself, and its own structure. If, as the late Canadian lyric poet John Newlove wrote in The Night the Dog Smiled (Toronto ON: ECW Press, 1986), “the arrangement is all,” then Syersak’s poems are obsessed with their own construction, and even, in effect, rebel against themselves, arguing for their own dismantlement, even as they accumulate and build, writing:

fortitude’s resistance requires
            a moment’s tranquility revolve
                                          in a piece—of asphalt,
feather, or flight

point-by-point petrification of

                          a dove’s symbology of
                                         refusal, exacting

of air
the lung-lids (“Impressions in the Language of a Lantern’s Wick”)

Inan interview conducted by James Eidson for Ghost Proposal, posted online on April 16, 2017, Syersak wrote:

At this point I’m pretty hostile toward anything that refers to poetic language as a “game.” I don’t mean to take myself too seriously (because I did, in fact, have a lot of fun writing this book), but I think there’s always more at stake. 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. Anyways, you’re right: at the heart of this book is an obsession with paradox—the palpable vs. the impalpable, the ethereal vs. the concrete, etc. I’m obsessed with poets who share that obsessive deconstruction of paradox but want to lug it into the real world, charge it politically, and break it into digestible pieces. Juliana Spahr, j/j hastain, Hoa Nguyen, Will Alexander, and Fred Moten are all poets that were really present with me while writing it. Most everything released by Action Books, Ahsahta, or Commune Editions endures with me.

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