Duties of an English Foreign Secretary

Macgregor Card, Author . Fence $16 (105p) ISBN 978-1-934200-29-2

The speaker of Card's debut is a man at war with the shortness of his attention span: “How long is the comedy/ about me?” he asks. Yet Card is less interested in answering questions than in changing the subject. “There was a ship on fire last night,” begins the opening poem. “I am ashamed and a burden to my friends.” This can be frustrating, but when he allows us to follow the faint strands of logic in his language, as though following a thread through a hedge maze, Card's voice triumphs over its attention deficiency: “I need for you to wreck/ upon yourself// the salvage you recover/ from me.” Card falters when he abandons this thread altogether, as if to suggest his bombastic speaker and his language “alone were fraught with confidence” the poems themselves need not surpass. Nevertheless, Card's strange and embattled voice works upon the ear long after the book is shut, and the originality of this debut is such that we might not yet know how to understand the operations of such a well-built yet brittle verbal machine. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
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