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HTMLGiant on Stingray Clapping

By Harriet Staff

Housten Donham has posted an intriguing review of Andrew Choate’s Stingray Clapping, from Insert Blanc Press, over at HTMLGiant. Reveling in a sense of joyful bewilderment, Donham doesn’t try to explain Choate’s poems into neat, manageable boxes. Of one of Choate’s three word poems, horse by watching, Donham writes:

What does someone do with a piece like “horse by watching?” Many works here deny any kind of limited reading because they just don’t make any “sense.” “Horse by watching” could be read as a kind of minimalist, concrete poem; it may even be a sort of pun on something like “hoarse from talking”—or it’s just some random shit thrown together. Much of Stingray Clapping echoes and updates Robert Grenier’s almost-forgotten Sentences, another enigmatic and seemingly nonchalant work of pure pleasure-granting experimental poetry. One of the more intriguing elements of both books is that they don’t make excuses. Choate isn’t rationalizing his “project” here; instead he seems to be celebrating a kind of lazy, half-assed aloofness throughout the work.

Then, Donham talks a little about where the book finds itself amid a decade of “project poetry”:

It’s odd to think that almost all significant poetry movements of the latest half-century, at least since Olson, have been spearheaded by manifestoes, diatribes, and policies wherein the poet-scholars are engaged in a nervous kind of poetic apologetics for their work, through which they illuminate the otherwise muddied waters of poetry. In the early 21st century (the age of the poetry “project”) we seem to have even arrived at a point where the explanation or the recording of a work is more central (and certainly more interesting) than the work itself. Stingray Clapping, meanwhile, doesn’t have that problem because there is no justification for its existence, other than to give strange pleasure to even stranger people. This pleasure isn’t singular: laughter, bewilderment, and a slack-jawed absorption are a few of the immediate reactions I had while reading it.

Make the jump to read the rest and to check out a few more Stingray zingers!

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.