George Albon, Empire Life, 1998, Littoral Books, LA.
The first two-thirds of the book consist of a single serial poem composed of eighty-eight eight line poems.
The poems build up in units of scenic, Gaussian-blurred subjectivity.
There is often an implied relationship narrative where only tiny bits of information about the story are shared, though the sensation of urgency in the missing bigger picture is allowed through with much of it's energy. It's as though the poem is stepping back from a setting where a human drama is unfolding, and this backward movement allows in a subtle and odd layer of psychological implication.
Would you find
thru the steel
the gift of
blare & call--
Similar to Creeley in its nuanced pivoting between psychological and perceptual valences, except unlike Creeley it moves strongly away from the dynamics of sentiment.
Very small units of information put together like puzzle pieces which fit perfectly even though they seem to be from totally different puzzles.
A beautiful, tense, odd wholesomeness like Lorine Niedecker.
At one point, he makes a little drama out of the process of a thought's inception, and the relation of the area of that inception to anxiety, complete with harpies:
It held a
The feeling or pressure of the physical world is strong even within the confines of a fairly abstract and cerebral poetics.
It is going
between (the bus).
Part of me
A gust of
wind like gale.
Strong objectivist tendencies-- clarity and precision. Also possessed of Eignerian moments of stationary observation:
from the blue
a sound in
In fact this work is deeply Objectivist- not only is the poem itself seen as an object, but every element within the poem is treated as an object. The perception, the thought, the word, the observation, the feeling, the self, the person, etc., all have the feeling of assembled objects.
The poems are like carefully improvised beddings make from the gradual accruals of everyday, domestic life.
Some of these sequences seem to be simultaneously asking a question of and depicting a memory and/or a setting:
A couch but
some in chairs-
it goes round-
heard, then in
circle, the couple
The other part of book is Cosmophagy, which consists of a sequenced string of short, smooth, one-sentence prose units.
Narrative in a blender, or existing in a suspension of poetic science fiction like Soft Boys mode William Burroughs or J.G. Ballard.
Scenes melting into each other as though seen from a passing car, all happening in a landscape like a post-Blade Runner Gunslinger.
Many images of machines wearing away the earth, as though all human activity were a kind of erosion. The title means world-eating.
Blurred dream material but also metaphoric thought and questioning:
"In vassal-mind an ethos traveling like a geese-V in pinkish dusk to the appropriate host a creature-calling lucidation of lives they stumble into what? From the resulting what?"