cover image The Available World

The Available World

Ander Monson, Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-932511-83-3

Monson has become increasingly well-known for his unusual books of prose (most recently, Vanishing Point), which toy with and subvert traditional notions of narrative and memoir, but he is, at heart, a poet, as this second collection attests. Hyperactive, and as much a product of the Internet age as they are about its phenomena—addiction to buying stuff, obsession with minor celebrities, general information overload—these poems tour a consciousness that can't quite figure out where it begins and ends. Accounts of Web browsing come off like lovely pastorals ("Online: sprinkling clicks among the pixels"), and vicarious living brings a surprising freshness to the everyday, "as if I've never seen/ the world in which I live before." A series of poems called "Availability" ravel together Star Trek actor–cum–Twitter celeb Wil Wheaton, wine scholarship and "Blackberries rustling in silent in pockets" in an attempt at intimacy with a beloved. There's a series of sermons, an "Elegy for Beotch" and disoriented recollections of bygone technology: "Last year's winter storm warnings/ replaying on a VCR.// What's a VCR?" The occasional prosiness of these poems is countered by the surprising music they bring to so many unpoetic things. The best will inspire readers to follow Monson's order to "Keep it all on your memory disks." (July)