The Cry at Zero

Andrew Joron, Author Counterpath Press $14.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-933996-02-8
The prose poems and lyric essays in underground poet Joron's first gathering of prose are rooted in the belief that ""we are living in an era...of the convergence of science, mathematics, and poetry."" Of particular (almost obsessive) interest to Joron is the concept of emergence, important to many of the sciences and defined here as ""a qualitative leap of matter beyond the laws of motion to which it previously conformed."" ""The classic example of an emergent quality,"" Joron writes, ""is water, most of whose remarkable characteristics are entirely unpredicted by those of its constituents, hydrogen and oxygen."" The idea that language is ""an emergent property of social systems"" isn't original to Joron (Fathom), nor is the idea that the ""enigma"" of poetry exceeds ""the properties of its constituent words,"" but what matters in this context is the phrasing, the poetry, as it were, and Joron's is characteristically impeccable, lapidary, sublime: ""Forgetting the social (whose booming echoes rolled over us long before birth), we are // guided through soft interiors of the word mass...."" A number of shorter pieces include an appreciation of poets George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, the little-known inaugurators of a ""distinct tradition of California Decadence,"" and a brief but intimate tribute to poet and mentor Barbara Guest. With luck this modest but beautifully designed book will bring a new wave of attention to Joron, who is among the most uncompromising, far-reaching, and underappreciated poets writing today.
Reviewed on: 01/29/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
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