cover image In on the Great Joke

In on the Great Joke

Laura Broadbent. Coach House (Consortium, U.S. dist.; PGC, Canadian dist.), $17.95 (88p) ISBN 978-1-55245-336-0

Broadbent’s wry, delightful collection is a high-wire act of humor and hybridized poetry forms. The broad, irreverent banter with its audience verges into near-conspiratorial tones as Broadbent flirts with but never quite commits to fourth-wall breaking. Her work is at all times self-aware, the razor-sharp precision of her language play belying its carefully crafted appearance of casual chaos. Through prose poetry, essays as explosively creative (non-)fiction, film scripts wrought into poetic usage, interlocutory legerdemain and interviews with the dead, and formal and free verse, Broadbent has crafted a book whose components collide expertly, smashed into exquisite corpses whose display is a gallery exhibition. Broadbent (Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining?) has breathtaking skill, and this collection is perhaps best described by a few words borrowed from some of the notes on her short film scripts: “The combination of these things often result in a gallows humor and absurdity that frees the [reader].” This is a book without constraints—free-wheeling, delicious absurdism. It is glorious. (Nov.)