cover image Playtime


William Fuller. Flood Editions (SPD, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-9903407-3-7

"Does mist form in reaction to what you dream?" asks Fuller (Hallucination) in this challenging, slippery, and dryly comic collection. "I will use whatever I have learned to attack this question, but first I want to sit here and watch the future arrive from the past." The book is filled with entangling propositions of the sort that propel an author out of cult status. Fuller can stop short for wit, or slow down for a Blakean vision: "two heads/ staring down// the horses/ of night// their jangling/ hooves// nominally/ in line." Fuller has an exacting intelligence and a drive to find abstract answers to very large questions, even if those answers never come. The prose poems can resemble the work that made John Ashbery famous, Fuller's sentences backing up and changing gears on the fly. Fuller's stern verse, on the other hand, can recall Elizabeth Robinson or even J.H. Prynne. Unrelenting in his attempts to make the language new, and at times demandingly philosophical, Fuller has insights that pop like geysers from the spare, strange landscape of his diction: "the speech/ of animals// is necessity/ without shape," for instance, and "to be rational is to affix one's desire to the geese overhead, throbbing like bass clarinets." Fuller poses a challenge that American poetry at last seems ready to accept. (June)