cover image Of Mongrelitude

Of Mongrelitude

Julian Talamantez Brolaski. Wave, $18 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-940696-44-7

Brolaski (Advice for Lovers) riffs off the eponymous idea of what it means to be a mongrel in this inconsistently pleasing mishmash of languages and structure. True to this definition, Brolaski’s dense linguistic style defies both classification and easy reading, which is likely to alienate many readers. There’s no shortage of indecipherably Joycean lines, such as “ta be bridled// paramatrest/ binite adjaçon.” The poet occasionally contextualizes his obscure references—for instance, explaining that “Isánáklésh” refers to an Apache deity—but readers must largely rely on their own interpretations of unknown words. In this way, these poems become especially flexible and welcome many meanings. Some may argue that this is the whole point: pushing “englyssh” to its borders and creating communications that exist outside of linguistic evolution. A poem that begins with the Old English sounds of “tho what hath been primordial—thir fronte, ofttimes in geste,” gradually transforms to an ending of, “haha, not w/ that guy anyway.” Here is language as mutt, a synthesis of what came before and what most contemporary English speakers employ. Though its sonic qualities are apparent when spoken aloud, this kind of poetry may not be particularly enjoyable for many readers. Nevertheless, Brolaski presents, and seems dedicated to, the kind of experimentation that keeps language evolving and malleable. (Apr.)