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Franklin Bruno Reviews Stan Apps
Oer at Thought Catalog, Poetry Foundation contributor Franklin Bruno reviews poet and essayist Stan Apps’s The World As Phone Bill, a new book of essays that came out from Combo books this spring. The book comprises text on John Cage, Hannah Weiner, Nada Gordon, Frank O’Hara, K. Silem Mohammad, Gary Sullivan, Rodney Koeneke, Mathew Timmons, and Ara Shirinyan (we might call some of them flarfists). The content is in the style, too, as Bruno breaks down: “Like many practitioners of the hybrid genre called ‘poetics,’ Apps flouts the rules of argumentative prose as it suits his needs: several of these pieces break into verse at key strategy, while others use the Google-based collage techniques (and gross-out imagery) of the current mode of experimental poetry known as flarf.” He also writes:
Condensation has been a watchword of modernist poetry since Pound, but what’s poetic about this writing, even in awkward or repetitive moments, is its expansiveness. Lengthy chains of logical or logical-sounding reasoning seem to come to Apps easily, almost unbidden; their effect is akin to that of John Ashbery’s Three Poems, though with political theory replacing metaphysical reverie. This makes brief quotation from some of the best pieces in The World as Phone Bill nearly pointless. (This includes the allegedly “dumbed-down” title essay, an ambitious take on globalism.) Fortunately, Apps’s keen sense of paradox also comes in more tightly-wound packages, as does his anger, which may be his most “accessible” quality as a writer. Here he is, in “On Representation,” swallowing the serpent’s tail of guilt and complicity, in a deceptively casual register:
“But wait, I voted for the other guy; why am I responsible? I am responsible because I am a citizen, and the Prez represents all citizens, not just the ones who vote for him. He represents us even if he hates us, or if we hate him. What does it mean to be responsible? It means I should feel guilty about the people my representatives have killed. Wait, who would fall for that?”
Read the entire piece here.