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Ben Tripp on Dana Ward’s Crisis of Infinite Worlds
At HTMLGIANT, Ben Tripp writes one of the first reviews of Dana Ward’s Crisis of Infinite Worlds (Futurepoem 2013), noting that while the title poem’s central subject is Krystal Cole, “you don’t have to be in-the-know about anything like that to enjoy this poem, or the book.” Tripp first came across the poem in a “in a little handsewn magazine made in Brooklyn over a year ago” (that would be CLOCK, for those of you close-reading). But Tripp does go on to discuss Cole (“[s]he’s a cult figure, a martyr without having to die, the benevolent Mother Theresa of drugs, adolescent rebellion and all things forbidden”). And then the poems:
The prose poetry along with the other verse in this book is so brilliant, so uncompromising in its search for subject matter and mildly self-aware purple fustian style, with language at times like a rainbowesque bulwark… careful accretions of only the most vibrant material Ward has gathered for us from off the shelves at the mall or the darkest corners of Internet or just plain old-fashioned books of other people’s poetry he loves. You get lost in it. He’s a self-proclaimed flâneur of the American Midwest from Cincinnati while being no stranger to the city of New York and its environs; where so many of his peers/collaborators/fans have enjoyed a sneak preview and advanced copies of this book along with his live readings. He works with the mixed blessing of the label “poet’s poet.” Why? At one point, he mentions his publishers Song Cave and Futurepoem in the poem directly, telling the story of how this book came into being, and we see the author tipping his hand/hat to an assumed audience of mostly other poets, editors, publishers and artists…sort of preaching to the choir, you might say.
But Ward transcends the elitist moors of so-called avant-gardist groupings somehow while being completely as avant-garde as can be. There are so many distillations of styles and forms and readings in this book. He dedicates and addresses his poems to his fellow poets, while also serving as a kind of ambassador between them and the respective world(s) of mass culture, Internet memes, pop music and Ohio. These pages also hearken back to Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, throw Hannah Weiners in there (like the book The Fast) L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets like Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman… Alice Notley. Jack Kerouac. Charles Baudelaire. It’s a sprawling, torrential and omnivorous poetics.
The book comprises several long poems, prose and verse; one emerging out of the other, and vice versa. It’s writing that lends itself to fast reading, constant re-reading, and being read aloud to friends. And as anyone who has ever seen him read his poems live will say, he’s phenomenal (Video of the title poem being read aloud) with his deceptively casual arabesque. Vocally, he’s on par with the late Leslie Scalapino for intensity, and Charles Olson for a kind classical oratory gravitas while being able to make it look easy. . . .