Democracy Boulevard

Kit Robinson, Author Roof Books $11.95 (101p) ISBN 978-0-937804-76-6
Careening from the Creeley-esque minimalist lyric to the experimental poetry of Robinson's main associates, the Language poets, and from the expansiveness of John Ashbery's skids through middle-class consciousness to a dance around the ""void"" of the French lyric, Robinson's 15th collection powers through eight sections of investigations into a technologically driven yet ""blood static"" California lifestyle: ""My normal state/ wide grin/ mild chagrin/ effervescent/ way to go/ keep it vanilla."" The opening prose poem ""The Person"" introduces the empty vessel of narrative consciousness that lurks behind the rest of the book: ""The person is, as cliche-ridden isomorph, a creature of habit. One has certain convictions, obsessions, eccentricities, stylistic features, indications that set one apart. All this is begging the question, a delay tactic."" This pronouncement is followed by the meditative poems of ""Sense Data,"" and cruises through ""High Technology,"" ""Media Studies"" and even ""The Messianic Trees."" While these sections can often barely contain a Wagnerian sense-overload, Robinson's greatest skill lies in sustaining an unresolved, delicately balanced syntax, which comes to the fore in the center-justified poems of the rest of the book: ""Baked society.../ apprehension of the world/ bound/ in the loose confederation/ sweating love beads/ of the poem."" Some of these lines are desperately funny and socially poignant (""It's Doris Day/ but the aspect ratio is cutting her in half""), qualities which have contributed to Robinson's reputation as one of the more entertaining avant-garde poets. Though some of the longer poems suffer from a dulling ticker-tape like rhythm, they set up a stable field for Robinson's troubled glances at the channel-switching haze of democratic consumerism. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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