cover image The Garrett Caples Reader

The Garrett Caples Reader

Garrett Caples. Black Square Editions, $9 (98pp) ISBN 978-0-9675144-0-6

Caples is part of a younger generation of writers reinvigorating contemporary poetry by combining modernist and Language-poetic verbal angularity with the sheer enthusiasm and lustiness of adolescence. Caples can be as arrogant and ""shock rock"" as you would want any younger poet to be, yet delicately mixes love and eroticism with the objets of a virtual dream-space--""A can opener found in Brooklyn meets the tailfins of Alabama""--straddling the line between a Syd Barrett stream-of-sweet-nothings and the bachelor-machine eroticism of Duchamp: ""Mr. Baritone-Man, tell my love of me, and do it in a way she'll be impressed. Paint me on her eyes in your dark, rich tones, and ignore the fact she's not too crazy about the saxophone you're my last resort, your deep craters of sound, the prod of your twisted horn. Gouge her with your bull-like strength, as you chop your meaty way through innuendo and crescendo like red Hungarian wine. Show her brochures made from glossy squalls, depicting the castle we'll occupy on the banks of the Tigris. "" Most of the poems are clearly celebrations of will and vigor in a somewhat demoralized America--an ethical dilemma the poet responds to with an eye-for-eye, over-the-top (and occasionally distressing) vulgarity. (""Humped by Barrett Watten"" is a quasi-essay that accuses the Language poets of being ""Victorian"" in their attitudes toward sex.) More than mere rocks-offing, however, this book displays genuine intellectual engagement along with its playful exuberance, making for a most winning combination. (Jan.)