Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I reread Josh Bell's No Planets Strike, and can vouch for the main point of Seth's elucidation of how it's possible to have a good time reading him -- the tone seldom goes sour.

It's possible to have a good time, but not necessarily easy. I don't really know at the end of his poems what designs he has on the reader, or what he's getting at. He doesn't engage my sympathy and if anything his speakers repel me. If I gave Bell a checklist of tics to cheese me off, I don't remember it:
  • Mention poetry, poems, and poets
  • Address poems to a cute name
  • Give no information about the addressee
  • Speak wearily, ironically, about popular culture
  • "Cable and beer"
  • Gaslighting
  • Food
  • Menacing closing images
  • Sexual positions
Maybe that last one isn't so bad. Anyway. The tone is part of the secret, another's the pacing: Bell's sentences do not stop short, do not run long, and avoid a monotonous sameness.

On third thought, what I most admire in Bell's poems is the relentless accumulation of odd details, a quality I could illustrate a lot better with the book in front of me, which it's not. This bombardment-quality I also admire in Anselm Berrigan's poems, incidentally. Ridiculous critical phrase follows: They both limn the fubar.

At the end of No Planets Strike I felt excited and alive, if not particularly amused or inspired to write. All the same, that's something.

Jordan - #




I'm Jordan Davis.
I write a lot.
I mention it here.

Say hi: jordan [at] jordandavis [dot] com.

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