Exit Theater

Mike Lala. Colorado State Univ./Center for Literary Publishing, $16.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-885635-53-2
Lala merges verse, academic text, and lyric essay with writing for the stage in an elegiac debut collection meant to be beheld and enacted. This provocative book is designed as an immersive experience, featuring verse that can be classified as poetry only in that it announces itself as such: this is performance, myth creation, and rally cry. In his understated confrontations with forms of societal violence—militarism, climate change, economic collapse—Lala attends to the musicality of language, seductively contrasting the lush with the sparse: “Dusk falls in the gun cabinet/ the city in yellow silk// I pull its sash.” Violence afflicts the book’s form as well through the use of erasure, footnotes, URLs, and faded ink. Readers encounter transcripts of old tape recordings, stage directions, snippets of autobiography, and references to painter Cy Twombly, Shakespeare, and Catullus. Throughout, visual disjunctions and negative space wield tremendous power. The text can occasionally feel alienating, cryptic, or distancing, as if it were “a veil/ at the edge/ of experience.” This a dense and challenging yet rewarding read; Lala engages with playful structural elements as he experiments with alternate means of interrogation and representation. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Ebook - 978-1-885635-54-9
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