Thursday, April 08, 2010

Michael Gizzi, New Depths of Deadpan (Burning Deck, 2009)

War with its lights out eschews imagination. All our buds lost their heads in the flower of their youth.

So we got this apartment on Jockey Street. They used to race houses there.

Those are two stanza/paragraphs from “The Deep,” the first of the many brief prose poems that make up Gizzi’s book, which is one of the most fun things I’ve read in a long time, and is marvelously strange. This little excerpt gives some good examples of the ways Gizzi works: the sewing together of anomalous parts in the first sentence; the punning on “buds” that turns a cliché into a literal statement, which in turn doesn’t quite work, the sentence never stabilizing and that instability of metaphor pointing back to the first sentence’s different instability, that connection amplifying the sense of “our buds” having been killed in the war—where have all the flowers gone?; the “mishearing” of “race horses” as “race houses,” connecting that phrase with the preceding sentence in a doubled way with a surreal image (or is it a metaphor for real estate competition, for the turning of houses into apartments, of ownership into rental?).

I find this utterly brilliant and hilarious, and every moment in the book is as singular, complex, weird and pleasurable. I should make a list of poets, on which Gizzi would be included, who seem extraordinarily free, unfettered, able to simply write what there is to be written, without being held back by preconceptions of what their writing should be. At least it seems that way from the outside.

This was marginally written under Gizzi’s influence—though not much so—and while listening to Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” op. 109, 102, & 117:

The Esques have no jism heads, two songs and irregular sock type novitiate

What will think a flow’r perfectly carnival

A sotto crystal approach bounces a puncture into king’s ice

If you’re very having fun, give ed a humor changing into skunk
Dress, a little riverboatin’ ball

Not the resolution I’m used to breaking took me by surprise balls storm

Cheap ultra backed up in the mine, hung on the Shelley hoke

Saming noise

Plugs in—click—armada-shaped confectionesque
Sentescence hots him whence

Pocket procession, nobler calendar sticking to itself and story

Album leaf over and under water twins its tricks

A purpling corona holds three-step sky

Hove a grappling arena to shore


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