cover image The Year of the Rooster

The Year of the Rooster

Noah Eli Gordon . Ahsahta (SPD dist.), $18 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-934103-40-1

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%E2%80%94"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)