The Thorn

David Larsen, Author . Faux $15 (84p) ISBN 978-0-9765211-0-5

Larsen is one the two most important practitioners of an emerging form that might be called the "graphic poem"—basically, verse comics. (The other is Gary Sullivan, also published by poet Jack Kimball's Faux Press in Boston.) Larsen's graphic piece "Bucket of Blood" (www.temple.edu/chain/larsen.pdf ) and other works have already brought him a blogospheric following; this much-awaited debut, however, showcases Larsen's conventional verse, which is unique and accomplished in and of itself. The Wordsworth poem from which the book takes its title describes its thorn as "a mass of knotted joints,/ A wretched thing forlorn," and the same is true, explicitly and knowingly, of the speaker of this collection. What Larsen (who often signs work LRSN) is after is nothing less than an anatomy of the abject, one that drinks deep of English poetry's traditions of pathos and history-surveying. Abjection, here, is a close cousin to violence, and both are directly linked to emotional cowardice—often in others. In a cumulative manner impossible to quote, the speaker doggedly tracks that cowardice at various levels of representation and relationship: from what roommates say to what Osama bin Laden does, from the words of "The Diviner Satih" to all of Phoenix. It's an obsessive, superintelligent, highly promising work, and an often beautiful one. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
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