The Multiple

Calvin Bedient, Author
Calvin Bedient. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $15.95 paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-66-7
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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"Having stubbed God out with thinking/ I tried to burn down in my own springy flame." Such exclamations and other outrageous discoveries dominate Bedient's forceful and sometimes disorganized fourth book of verse. Known since the 1970s for his poetry criticism, Bedient (Days of Unwilling) established himself as a poet of wildness, of spiritual, erotic, or dyspeptic extremes. Chthonic energy, almost as in Dylan Thomas, is everywhere, and often it comes with sexual excitement: "A particle puts its groin to your mouth: go on,/ make it well in the garish heat of the marriage bed." Yet these messy energies easily turn violent. One five-page poem follows a genuine, grisly case of child sexual abuse, mistaken identity and murder from 1920s California. Other pages, while eschewing narrative, undercut bourgeois norms of personality, consistency, desires satisfied, in favor of an explosive challenge to everything. Bedient also runs a provocative literary journal called Lana Turner, whose radical interests in politics, culture, and type design spill over into this book; fonts, page layout, and book design vary immensely, in ways that only add to the unsettling, almost uncontrollable, information density the volume boasts. "Is there enough chaos in you to make a world?" one short poems asks; the answer is yes. (Sept.)
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