Culture

Daniel Davidson, Author
Daniel Davidson, Author Krupskaya $11 (126p) ISBN 978-1-928650-13-3
Reviewed on: 06/01/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
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Known for political performance work that included sitting at an off-ramp behind a ""WILL VOTE REPUBLICAN FOR FOOD"" sign, and handing out pins that read ""IRAQI"" at the height of the Gulf war, Bay Area poet and artist Davidson committed suicide at 44 in 1996, after years of chronic illness. Culture is a seven-part project whose title Davidson took very seriously, attempting to capture in text culture's contradictory role creating and resisting late capitalist reality. Of the four sequences collected here, the opening prose poem ""Product"" is a syntactically complex serial assault on mental product placement, blurring our mental money shots: ""You come here to do what you want, do what you see, the traditional figure, contained and framed in a thirty second grip."" ""Bureaucrat, my love."" offers a stuttering, long-lined trace of moment-to-moment experience merging routine office work with religious diction ""so that in every face and name/ is an intended a beloved."" The concluding ""Anomie"" incorporates vaulting statements of intent (""This is not or can be commentary, rain/ involvement and escape""); stanzas that sound like transcribed, damaged audiotape; and a ""Reflective series"" whose ""torn curtain within the real"" reveals range and density. Fans of Bay Area Language writers like Barrett Watten and Lyn Hejinian will find in Davidson a crucial generational next step; like Dan Farrell and Dodie Bellamy, Davidson finds an exquisite balance between critique and practice. (Aug.) Forecast: The publisher has made the remaining three sequences of Culture available as a .pdf file at www.krupskayabooks.com/culture.html, and Davidson's literary executor Gary Sullivan (How to Proceed in the Arts) includes a biographical afterword to this volume. Remembrances of Davidson by a dozen Bay Area poets can be found at home.jps.net/~nada/issueone.htm; look for this book to be well reviewed locally and within small-press circles.
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