Rodrigo Toscano, Author O Books $10 (55p) ISBN 978-1-882022-37-3
Toscano injects a startling urgency into contemporary poetics, reminiscent of such politically motivated texts as Bruce Andrews's Give Em Enough Rope or Myung Mi Kim's Dura, but particular in its cross-cut questioning of political agency. In 12 sections with titles like ""Present Perfect Progressive"" and ""Simple Past,"" Toscano, as Barrett Watten notes on the back flap, couples human labor with its grammatical doppelgangers. The result points to closed historical inevitabilities on the one hand, and earnestly conceived utopias on the other. Moving through several modes of rhetoric--direct address, the declamatory, the lyric--the short, tight lines never lose steam, as Toscano plows through manic considerations of aesthetics and society that build to extraordinary, near-Poundian razzlings: ""Flouting history, rambling spleen'd/ // Fumbling segues, trancing sex'd/ // Spouting ethics, shunning touch / // Sorting concepts, draping needs / // Been reading `world'/ through shards...."" Toscano's ""wordwork""--the poem is obsessed with a poetic economy that is, even at its margins, compromised by the exigencies of the global ""market""--is always tempered by his quest for a collective revolutionary consciousness, but movingly avoids a po-mo pessimism and turn toward irony when its moment fails to arrive: ""And why not/ partisans// So so democratic/ postmodern muzzling// Having been fitted/ having been summoned by it...."" ""Tattered/ fettered/ committed,"" this singular, staunch text posits its ""Readers/ as agents""--and partisans--with all the dignity that implies. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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