Red Arcadia

Mark Scroggins. Shearsman (SPD, dist.,), $15 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-1-84861-192-4
Best known for his biography of the monumental American poet Louis Zukofsky, Scroggins has also been gathering power, and vitriol, for his own verse. This third collection promises “No more poems/ as consolation. I want the poem as damage,” and it delivers: challenging free verse with idiosyncratic shapes and lithe jumps from scene to scene, topic to topic, abstraction to example, “thinking... of revolution and despotism,” “of systems subject, political, and private,” where “the end of history./ triumphal apotheosis of the behemoth/ Capital, has been momentarily postponed.” Instances from the ancient world (the fall of Troy) and from up-to-the-minute consumer culture let Scroggins explore the bitter or bittersweet failures of modern global capitalism to provide comfort, or justice, for all. In the money-saturated, partly corrupted society Scroggins envisions, within which he speaks, he can feel “as if all/ our darting attentions were waterbugs on/ a stream of commodities, channel-switching/ infomercials.” Far more sophisticated—and more pessimistic—than most so-called protest poets, Scroggins has figured out how to bring to American writing the intellectually ambitious collages and jeremiads associated with England’s so-called “Cambridge School.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
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