Notes from Irrelevance

Anselm Berrigan. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-933517-54-4
Stirring cosmic observations and succinct "micro-meanings" in the same pot, Berrigan creates a single poem that reads like the manifesto of a poet who would never admit he's writing one. "I don't think it works," he says, "to /plead for a voice out of /the monolith to make /clear what you sense, feel, know to be happening." If we read this as a statement against finding one's voice in poetry via the Muse, elsewhere Berrigan is even more literal about his aesthetics: "On the/ question of influence/ I seem to have forgotten/ all the names, places,/ objects, friends, failures,/ experiences that might/ make up the requisite list." By Berrigan's own admission, then, he is "influenced by, potentially,/ anything." This is proven throughout the poem, as the poet welcomes both the mundane and weirdly personal detritus of the age of information into his lines, touching on early termination fees and an anonymous comment he read about his father, poet Ted Berrigan, online. The poem serves as a snapshot of the complexity of day-to-day life, 2011-style. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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