Plummet

Chris Nealon, Author
Chris Nealon, Author . Edge $14 (64p) ISBN 978-1-890311-29-2
Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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Internationally renowned as a scholar of modern poetry and gay and lesbian writing, Nealon is also a formidably intelligent, decidedly challenging poet. This sophomore effort (after The Joyous Age ) tends to self-interrogation, self-mockery, and an almost desperate knowingness about every topic under Nealon's blistering sun—politics and political theory, sex, urban life, commerce, language itself. “I am not gay, I am from the future!” one page announces; “Chase after the new, but remember people like it when you repeat yourself,” another poem says. Like Joshua Clover (to whom the book is dedicated), Nealon can sound abrasive, tired beyond argument, worn out by his own sophistication, or else eager to encompass, mock, and surmount various trends: some poems apparently made by “Google-sculpting” (arranging results of Internet searches) may be too au courant to last. Yet Nealon's self-consciousness also provokes compellingly: “Hold fast to your integrity until it becomes Art Song and you have no friends.” The poems present, mull, and sometimes undercut the very presuppositions (that we can ever listen to one another; that we can know what makes us happy or sad) that let other poets write poems at all. Nealon sets himself apart from all convention, sounding comfortable nowhere: that discomfort, that sense of restless, fast inquiry, gives much of his new work its peculiar, dissonant force. (Dec.)

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