Smudgy and Lossy

John Myers. Song Cave, $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9988290-4-3
Taking the form of a verse novella, this finely crafted debut from Myers charts the narrative arc of a romance between recurring characters Smudgy and Lossy. Sonically rich and highly musical, the work considers the transformative effects that desire has on the way people inhabit language, but also the ways that language structures interpersonal intimacy. “I’m learning to speak,” Smudgy declares midway through the book, gesturing at the revolution in grammar and address that readers experience in Myers’s lyric style. Frequently eschewing the semantic meaning of words and relying on sound as the primary source of unity within the work, Myers reminds readers that desire calls for its own lexicon, one that defamiliarizes and unsettles: “You are the conscience I exaggerate,/ devastating your brambles.” Both here and throughout, Myers presents words that fit together syntactically but do not conceptualize meaning or narrative in an expected way. He shows that speech is inevitably an act of homage and destruction: “If languages are birds to be captured, or butterflies in the killing jar.” For Myers, part of the process of transformation, in both language and interpersonal relationships, is the destruction of old models, a necessary devastation that makes way for the new: “I keep only one book, this one/ I made.” (July)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
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