Poetry News

Rodrigo Toscano's Deck of Deeds Is Creatively Engaged

By Harriet Staff

Rodrigo Toscano's new book, Deck of Deeds (Counterpath 2012) is reviewed (or "creatively engaged," rather) at Big Other. J/J Hastain writes that the mouth is altered, more pixelated, after reading this book, and quotes Cathy Wagner as having said, astutely, that Deck of Deeds is “an American-values flipbook, or a realism themepark that keeps bubble-nucleating ('Lipids are known to spontaneously form bilayered vesicles in water') itself in the tax loophole.” And Hastain writes that "On the level of body experience I moved through this book with both the feeling of distance from the content that was being performed, as well as the feeling of a deepening proximity to the content that was being performed." More:

What is it to be taken into a sort of crass and slanted post-apocalyptic (“The seconds right before the cessation of all sensation”) or mythological zone (“It always did like to play “inter-galactic artist,” right?” / “That he did indeed spring up and give chase to the unicorn with the intention of breaking off his horn” / “The last moment of sanity she remembers is the look of her own short brown hair flared out onto her face in the mirror, sticky and messy, the Pre-Cambrian rock in the middle of the field there also”) as the place of DOD is (“Sometimes this violence scares the baby, but he feels very calm and in command afterward”)? This crass and slanted place is a place of pleasures as well as a place of discomforts. Thick with various cryptolects, the space of the book is quite motley—maybe DOD is a poly-god gloating or gagging (“Ethics have gotten much denser, more padded” / “They’ve almost lost count of how many Poly Gods they’ve prayed to together”)?

I notice many grounding locations (of which the list I include is extremely minor)–strong arms of architecture (in DOD): Museums, Stanford University, “oldest road in this part of central Missouri”, Dubai, Aruba, Denver’s own “Cherry Creek Reservoir.” These feel to me like they accomplish a lot in the book. They are there as contrast to the wild and more ephemeral notions and scenes (“Radiance of one entity transporting another entity into another realm”) that appear regularly in the book. The term dystopian has already been used as a descriptor of DOD, and I think that is because it is a fact of this text which focuses on “fusing “lost” cultural threads into entirely new ways of being.”

Is DOD saying: “I want you to de-codify me”? Or is it “demand[ing] that every breath of it be captured and gifted back to it as ecstatic continuous pleasure”?

Read it all here.

Originally Published: June 6th, 2012