Exuberant, sometimes chaotic, and often disturbing, the latest from the prolific poet and critic (The Source) spackles its up-to-date dream-visions, semi-sonnets, and wild postmodern announcements with the older legacy of surrealism. Part one arranges 14 long-lined poems in order of decreasing length, from sonnet size to monostich: the poems can seem lyrical and yet quite hard to summarize, obsessed by their own difficulty in finding a subject—"pinned/ to transparent paper, sentimental as an anecdote driven by self-deification,/ the empire of systematically expressed thought dusts its lilies." Part three reverses the process, zooming out from one line to 14. In between is a big free verse se-quence, with a new line shape almost every page, that gives voice to the eponymous Rooster, some-times a vaunted prophet, sometimes a risible spirit of machismo: "Internationality picks up/ after itself little pieces of Rooster-thought." Gordon, or his Rooster, can circumnavigate self-hatred, "My wonderful ideas, horrible statues sulking in the lazy afternoon"; he can revel in disarray or strive to go slower, "spinning & weaving in extreme fragility/ a dialectic of emergence." The volume testifies again to Gordon's powers of invention, and might please admirers of Michael Robbins, or of much older surrealists (say, David Gascoyne); it might not, however, serve as the best introduction to Gordon's expanding body of work. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013 Release date: 05/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.