cover image Your Father on the Train of Ghosts

Your Father on the Train of Ghosts

G.C. Waldrep and John Gallaher, BOA Editions, Ltd. (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-934414-48-4

This ample and sometimes witty collaboration between up-and-coming poet Waldrep (Archicembalo) and up-and-coming poet, critic and blogger Gallaher (Map of the Folded World) could get attention for its unusual methods: over a year of incessant e-mails, the pair came up jointly with each of 200+ poems, some of whose titles would stand out in any collection: "The Radio Inside Your Health Plan Is Sleeping," "The Sahara as Anecdote," "Ethel and Myrtle Try to Avoid How Emotional They Get." But if the titles convey novelty and excitement, the world-weary, slippery poems may not: Gallaher and Waldrep keep returning to figures of sad confusion: "All the fathers/ of Indiana, for reasons unknown,/ are falling... The fathers of Indiana/ are so modern/ they haven't happened yet." With their estranged speakers, fluid situations, and shifting pronouns, many pages come very close to the postmodern comic techniques of John Ashbery in the 1970s, or to James Tate's more recent books. "It makes it just like playing a game," one poem says, "pretending/ these new ideas are old ones/ or perhaps the old ones are new, depending/ on our current relationship/ to this clutter no one can remember accruing." Many of these poems rise above pastiche to shine in their own evening light. (May)