METROPOLIS 16-29

Robert Fitterman, Author, Rob Fitterman, Author . Coach House $14.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-55245-104-5

This second installment of Fitterman's ongoing long poem shows him moving further from a spare, Objectivist (à la Zukofsky) style to visual poetry and lyricizations of "found" texts. As before, Fitterman displays a deft control of sound pattern and surface textures, often revealing amusing microtonal narratives in the crevices between dissimilar genres. "Dream Cuisine" hilariously mixes the diaries of Lewis & Clark with New York City menus, exposing the predatory, survivalist mode in which even the most urbane restaurant-goer gets caught up: "we had the trumpet sounded, and fired several shots,/ but he did not join us, the evening's growing influence/ of a black root; a kind of Licquirish/ social fabric,/ croquetted wontons/ sustaining the loss/ of two very large bear skins." Other highlights include a poem that is composed entirely of the names of major corporate franchises (oddly stirring amidst our recent rash of bankruptcies and scandals) and a poem composed of Miltonic fragments that relates, in clipped DC-comics fashion, a poignant narrative about one of the city's millions of anonymous protagonists: "NEXT DAY/ brow of night/ her dragon yoke/ She looked at the clock—midnight./ A large tear/ forced its way/ through the cream/ on her face... / I hear the far-off, Oh God! Geez,/ the pills aren't working." These poems insist that all objects, especially textual ones, are able to be exploited, whether for distinctive creative ends or by the hand of kitsch (or malevolent propaganda). The result is a political stance that treats the cultural consumer not as a blind, voiceless receiver of corporate wisdom but as a textual Maxwell's demon: a self-employed soldier on a determined, good natured, mischievous crusade to reforge civic agency amid the dross. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
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