American Tatts

Linh Dinh, Author
Linh Dinh, Author . Chax $16 (96p) ISBN 0-925904-47-3
Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 00/00/0000
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The second effort in verse from this rising star of the small-press world turns his considerable powers to the depiction of acrid ironies, unmitigated disgust and politically charged gall. One of its opening poems imagines the poet as a half-knight, half-corpse "Cadavalier," exclaiming, "This pinkish universe is really nothing/ But a flocculation of my desires." A fast-moving poem called "Pick-Up Lines"—one of many about sexual discomfort—instructs a lover to "listen to my effluvium." Dinh (All Around What Empties Out ) often imitates (or perhaps quotes) subliterary material: online personal ads, instant messaging, brochures and corporatespeak ("We've entered a new level of parking consciousness"), confessions of X-rated adventures by semiliterate writers. His swift lines also portray the kind of grotesque caricature ("The day before her abortion,/ The one-eyed lady accidentally swallowed her glass eye") used manipulatively in politics. Exploring disgust while toying with frames and assumptions, the poet becomes in one sense a real heir to Charles Bukowski; in another, he joins other younger poets (such as Drew Gardner, reviewed below, and K. Silem Mohammad) in a movement toward hard-edged, provocative parody. It might be hard to call Dinh's volume pleasing, but readers of a certain temperament may well find it irresistible. (Dec.)

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