Saturday, February 04, 2023

Tony Mancus, All the Ordinariness


How magic is performed for an audience
but practiced alone so many times

it becomes mundane (“AFTER ECHO”)

I was curious to see Colorado poet and editor Tony Mancus’ full-length debut, All the Ordinariness (Grand Rapids MI: The Magnificent Field, 2022), following the publication of a handful of chapbooks. Set with an opening untitled single-page poem and three lengthy accumulations of fragments, sentences and lyric collage—“AFTER ECHO,” “HEARTBROKER” and “CROSSING OUT NOW”—All the Ordinariness holds an expansive lyric, blending words that play at rhythm, sound and meaning through small points of collision. “pick a passthrough and feel the imposter,” he writes, as part of the opening poem, “post up inside                set your bones // right still [.]” The poems are constructed as accumulations and even collisions of sentences, bursts, breaks and phrases, one atop another to form and shape a kind of disjointed meaning, and disjointed narrative. This book-length poem writes on the daily and the immediate, but through the concrete and abstract of language and ideas that propel the line as much as the specifics of daily action. There is such a staggered musicality to his rhythms, and something quite compelling on how this poem writes around and through particular narrative space, enough to outline what might not otherwise be seen, or even there. As he writes as part of the second section: “Saying something makes it real. Saying nothing makes it quiet. All the volleys / built into space there.” Or, a few pages prior:

Here this bag of stone, here a cricket saw, a claw from a crayfish, the log to jump from into a hole filled with water 20 feet or something more. Thin nature into its slivers. Here a roadsign for Shoneys gone dust and disuse, a boy wearing a confederate flag for a hat, the fear boned into a few dayswimmers at what would happen. When not if. The world we share and don’t.


I am putting another basket full of eggs in front of you. I am asking them to talk, tell me a story little round, make the news, change the channel, buy the fabric softener and color the walls with your insides. I don’t expect reason, I don’t inspect the cracks and delays, just notice how time changes. A catalogue.


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