Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Post-Twyla by Jack Kimball

Last night—or yestreen, as the poets say—Beth and I left Erin to recover from his chem final (tonight it’s the charms of calc), to have dinner with Jack Kimball. In the course of said repast, Jack handed me a copy of Post-Twyla, version 2. Post-Twyla is the subject of today’s sermon.

I reviewed Twyla lo these four years ago, here. Jesse Crockett did likewise. Excellent setting of scene, I’m sure you’re thinking.

The point here, now, revolves around the effect of my opening Post-Twyla, version 2. Post-Twyla has now been reset. It is now available at Faux Press, so you can see for yourself (and should!). The phrase New and Improved comes to mind.

The text has been re-envisioned. Boldface, greyface (i.e. grey scale font), and varied font sizes pepper the field of text where previously one absorbed visual ordinariness, fonts in passive condish. Anyone can screw around with fonts but I mean to say, when I opened the book, without even reading the words, I comprehended something great and changing. It’s a marvel.

I loved this text from first meeting, in manuscript. As I recount in my earlier review, Jack read much of the ms to Beth and me, and we heard a considerable portion at a public reading. It is a text of humour, speed, voices, changing, sadness, shifts, stark, and joy. It really is a masterpiece. You hear all that in a rollick that creates a will. This is poetry of the Dickensonian sort. I am not even bothering to look for the top of my head.

Jack  notes that Post-Twyla (the hyphen replaces the tilde of the previous version) began as a reaction to Flow Chart by John Ashbery, then it swerved to its own dalliance and condition. 164 pages and 250 sections of the human voice immersed in the words of day and night. Really beautiful.

The way the festival of fonts burrows into the already antic love that these words convey is something to experience. Writing this now is my first attempt to go beyond wow! Jack read some sections aloud, and so did Beth. Okay, I did too, but not as well as them. Everyone read what randomly appeared after a thrum of the pages. Jack said that is how one should read the text, but I already knew that.

Today’s poetry world seems to be stuffed with chapbook calling cards of grabbed together exercises. Post-Twyla stretches beyond that busy hopefulness of success and ambitionized paltry. He launches something that provides sliding context for our words, and how our words await us. This is, I repeat, a masterpiece. Discover this for yourself.

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