Poetry News

Brandon Brown's The Four Seasons Moves Art Into Friendship

By Harriet Staff
Brandon Brown, The Four Seasons, cover

Brandon Brown's newest book, The Four Seasons (Wonder, 2018), is reviewed by Dylan Byron for 3:AM Magazine. "Longer than a midwinter day, but more compact than the lifespan of the modernist long poem, a single year (May 2015 to May 2016) lends Brown’s newest book its form," writes Byron. More:

...Corners of the earth, winds, humanity’s ages, the zodiac’s signs, the body’s humors and, of course, the seasons—here all four.

Echoing Hegel’s Encyclopedia, Engels observes in the notes and fragments to his Dialectics of Nature:

Life and death. Already no physiology is thought scientific if it does not consider death as an essential element of life, life’s negation as being essentially contained in life itself, so that life is always thought of in relation to its necessary result, death, which is always contained in it in germ. The dialectical conception of life is nothing more than this…Living means dying.

Brandon Brown: lyric of our neoliberal nightmare, the juniper’s shade in which all life sickens and there is no song.

Since it’s summer, we think under the shade of Brown’s counter-plot of unproductivity, “Sometimes the idea of not producing or reproducing is exactly the kind of practical, benign nihilism most attractive to me.” But then art intervenes: “Other times I think of that great David Wojnarowicz graffiti, ‘The silence of Marcel Duchamp is overrated.’” With that classically Bay Area communitarian impetus, art moves right (you wouldn’t want to say “straight”) into friendship. It’s claimed, implicitly, for New Narrative but it could equally be Language or, if you think as I do, just Brown and his friend Bruce Boone:

Bruce and I went to SFMOMA when the Felix Gonzalez-Torres curtain was up. We walked through the beads several times, luxuriating in how they whipped us softly, little sparkly spankings. Bruce smiled behind the dangling threads and I smiled at Bruce.

Did you know Brown is six-foot-three and also an art writer? Boone’s pretty tall too, though not a straight poet and far easier to picture getting a sparkly spanking, flashing that sly, worldly grin of his. It could be parochialism, but I can’t help noticing all these gestures back towards New York art people, to say nothing of the ritual obeisance to fallen heroes of queer culture...

Read on at 3:AM.

Originally Published: July 16th, 2018