Karen Weiser's Pitching Woo
, from Cy Press
, has a way of pushing at the edges of sense while still attempting a language game of conveying information. In "landscape on shuffle" (which is an awesome title) she writes
A conk on the head can take you around
the cloudburst back to where I left
you flowered sack of abundant signs spilling
oyster shells and invisible currents in the patter
of patterns. This way of geysering
is first a way of building,
donning the story's once wonderful
bookends or sentries on either side of the door
There is enough sonic play to keep me focused on the pleasure of the text as words-in-the-mouth, but the real intellectual pleasure of this stanza is working back & forth between the creation of scene, character, something that evokes a place in the world, versus the wild spin of the surreal.
But for me the anchor for the surreal is the way it recreates emotions. The logic of emotion is the surreal, just as the logic of politics is scars & highways. It's the way Weiser creates new analogues for emotions that I love. In "they were hard to kill, those places" she writes
You fished for chance in the oddest places
moving to feel stopped
toppling over planetary motion
along the balconies of our clothes
The balconies--clothes metaphor is so good, so damn good. But it's the arrival there through the sentence that cements it. Weiser's poems find their moments of impact, rather than whittling a set of language down to its razors. These are not poems that smack you around, nor do they make you follow a meandering path. This is a collection of crafty poems, at turns clever & direct, bizarre & conversation, evasively ironic & surrealistically sincere.
Robert Krut's Theory of a Walking Big Bang
, from H_ngm_n B__ks
overlaps somewhat on the aesthetic venn diagram, but he has a different use for the surreal, employing it to create moments that jab you. Witness:
Brothers and sisters,
we are not object
nor subjects, but motion
Man bleeds starlight wrapped in dirt.
Krut's poems intend to enter your life, speak to you about the world. And they're very good at this. His poems lean forward, pushing head-first into the next line. It's not reckless, not a tumble, but more of a concerted effort at finding some way of speaking about the world that makes sense. Whereas Weiser's poems seem to work in the world, finding a way of speaking about it, Krut's have goals, ideas to explore.
The poems that closes the chapbook "The Easy Star in Chinle" starts off
Standing on the discreet lip of the canyon,
it is easy to believe There is no self
Not a human sound or sight,
black lake that is the chasm before you--
Feeding the recurring stray dog
fry bed and shredded beef--
The only light, fire light
red and white inside a hogan below--
It is easy to thing, This is the first light
, the last night
of a big bang, cosmos buried in earth.
This kind of meditative poetry attempts the definition of the world, but for Krut the definition is always just beyond sense. He needs to resort to the surreal to try to get things close to right. It is not play for him. The surreal is not other.