Lytle Shaw, Author . Roof $11.95 (79p) ISBN 978-1-931824-02-6

A departure both in style and tone from Shaw's debut Cable Factory 20, a book-length poem that investigated and extended the poetics of Spiral Jetty artist Robert Smithson, The Lobe is a rollicking jaunt through several pomo lyric styles, treated as so many goofy masks for parody, motored by outlandish details and rhetorical overload. "My Agent," a hypertrophied sales-pitch, runs in part: "While you're wolfing nachos and hoisting a pint at The Lusty Lady, he's in the sleet ringing doorbells.... While your head's readjusting to the horserace commentator's use of human language as you come out of the whip-it, he's sending your third carefully worded follow-up letter to the personnel manager, having double checked spelling and brought in several unassailably charming life details." About half of the poems are lyrics, wistful evocations of the nexus where history, chaos theory and globalization meet, from "Some Failed 18th Century Jacket Blurbs" to "New Years in Walt's Manhattan Crib." A section of "Translations" contains some hilarious poems such as a "At the Old Place: a homophobic translation of O'Hara," in which O'Hara's protagonists—himself, John Ashbery, other poet friends—are replaced by a bunch of beer-swigging, verbally challenged regular guys: "Earl checks out my twin-cap diesel combo. / Yeah, I got a wrench for that. (Dude, you comin?) / Earl hops in. (You ladies comin?) / Mike and Bill hop in the back. We squeal / across the lot—til Cooter's Vet / blocks the exit ramp. (Cooter, you comin?)" Shaw's writing here isn't designed to surpass the larger-than-life targets it locks on to, but the brash humor, whirlwind references and cameos by the likes of Brian Eno and Phil Rizzuto (who writes: "I disagree with those sticklers for logic, like Henry James....") convince that Shaw is after something more direct, more bawdy, at the same time just as difficult. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/22/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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