Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rain Taxi Review by Mark Terrill: Lewis Warsh, Geoffrey Young and Edmund Berrigan

Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005
Lewis Warsh
Granary Books ($17.95)

The Riot Act
Geoffrey Young
Bootstrap Press ($15)

glad stone children
Edmund Berrigan
Farfalla Press ($16)

Mark Terrill writes in his introduction:

Despite their differences in age, lineage, and poetic temperament, these three poets, and especially these three new collections of their poetry, have much in common, and provide an exemplary overview of what’s happening at the cutting edge of avant-garde contemporary American poetry. All three poets have been greatly influenced by the New York School and Language poetry, as well as by the Black Mountain and San Francisco Renaissance poets. A common denominator that runs through all three poets’ work is their use of montage and pastiche, extending and refining the techniques originally employed by the Dadaists and the later cut-ups of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, as well as Ted Berrigan’s great cut-up masterpiece, The Sonnets. (Indeed, the presence of the late Ted Berrigan seems to hover over the work of all three poets.) Another shared legacy is that of the Language poets’ foregrounding of the material aspects of language while moving the concept of an authorial “I” to the background, sometimes eschewing the idea of a central narrator or even a linear point of view in its entirety. On the other hand, all three of these poets are also comfortable with first-person narrative monologues, proving that they are not locked into any particular poetic dogma or regime. In this era of post-postmodernism, the perception of language, both as material and vehicle, has gone through many changes, and these three poets are acutely aware of those changes, as evidenced by these three new collections.

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