THE NEARNESS OF THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT

Charles North, Author
Charles North, Author . Adventures in Poetry $12.50 (50p) ISBN 978-0-9706250-1-4
Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 01/01/2000
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Searching the Garden State sky for a poetic source in "The Philosophy of New Jersey," veteran suburban surrealist North seems to find the limit of imagination. Edges and emptiness continue to generate North's enigmatic wit in the 17 lyrics of this eighth collection: line-to-line aural echo trippingly drives the lyric mechanism of "Chain" in which Imagination, tired of chasing Fancy around the block, may suddenly stop short and turn around to face Fancy coming round the other way: "Luster after the Maison d'Infinite/ In fine (it looks like) print, the curse of snowflakes." The lengthy "Day After Day the Storm Mounted, Then it Dismounted" leaves one comfortably off-guard: "Here you are a highly educated person. Hands, feet, chin, everything." The romping cadence of a gold-rush troubadour seeks poetry in "Words from Robert W. Service," a verse adventure story. North is a younger compatriot of O'Hara and Ashbery, and his nonchalance aspiring to greatness finds the same "risks inside art" that the New York School found in the city. (His No Other Way: Selected Prose and New and Selected Poems appeared in 1998 and '99, respectively.) Juggling a satiric self-consciousness with a "strange mischief," North—"nicer than villains/ Stabler than those with bipolar illness"—pulls death-defying propositions and playful mockeries from thin air. (June)

Forecast:North's work appears in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry and other generational compendia, and has been influential for younger poets like Tim Davis and Ange Mlinko. This volume, along with a reprinting of John Ashbery's hilarious 100 Multiple-Choice Questions from the early 1970s—"5. In a democracy the president is elected by A) roll-call vote B) the will of the people C) the Supreme Court D) majority vote E) drawing lots F) straw vote"—represents the revival of famed New York samizdat press AIP, edited by poets Larry Fagin and Christopher Mattison, and will be noticed and well reviewed within the small press community. (Ashbery: $12.50 32p ISBN 0-9706250-0-6)

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