CMYK

Michael Coffey, Author . O Books $14 (122p) ISBN 978-1-882022-56-4

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black—with forms that mimic the basic tones from which all colors are blended and printed, this third outing from New York poet and PW executive managing editor Coffey returns to the experimental, procedure-oriented methods of his first, Elemenopy , and synthesizes them beautifully with the autobiographical modes of his second, 87 North . Much of the volume adapts or radically abbreviates preexisting texts: "Verbum" arranges verbs (just the verbs) from the Biblical creation story ("said Let be was saw was/ divided called called was was"). "Irish Love Poem" and "Imagisme" replace poems by (respectively) Mebdh McGuckian and Ezra Pound with (respectively) black and white squares and sets of ones and zeros—the binary code that is the foundation of word processing. The book's second half, if less cerebral, is just as rigorous and materials-oriented: "Holiday à la Carte" uses a dining journal from a European vacation to reflect on adult development: "When/ will I be/ what I've become? Ham,/ bleu cheese, baguette,/ Leffe Blonde and straw-/ berries." The longer "Datebook 2002" takes on the contemporary art scene and the legacy of Andy Warhol along with daily life in post-9/11 New York, achieving a low-key insouciance reminiscent of James Schuyler. With apparent self-revelations that turn out to be quotations, and jigsaw-like verbal constructions that depict pathos almost despite themselves, Coffey finds "what's in the brain that ink may character." (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
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