Practice On Mountains

David Bartone. Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-934103-47-0
“I cannot believe I am interested in this method of speaking,” writes Bartone, in his first full-length collection. Method, here, involves balancing statement with astonishment, fact with question, fragment with completion: “What’s worth most?// The worth must be telling.” Unsurprisingly, at the core of this book is a troubled love, but Bartone has invented a kind of hermeneutics as poetic confession, which more than freshens the subject. “I will continue to pursue her because I am weak, though now both she and I know the peak of our capacity to care for each other is behind us, and I guess we are preparing to discover a beauty in that.” Echoing George Oppen in fragmentation and appropriation, Bartone is “not threatened by excerptibility” in the 10 multi-sectioned poems that comprise this gripping book, where relationships to language, lovers, and the reader (whom he terms “beautiful friend” throughout) are equally urgent, beautiful, and troubling: “Once again the tone has been exhausted before the form has// ... Not a bad understanding of the twentieth century.” Rather than becoming detrimentally self-conscious, Bartone’s hyperawareness of the self that makes art in a world that makes absurdity spurs a sharp analysis of method—though never at the expense of emotion—to fashion a testament to poetry that is inexhaustible. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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