Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I just got done reading Anthony McCann's "I (heart) Your Fate," and, like, whoa.

A few notes: The poems in this book border on being overtaken with naming, with applying meaning, with, well, being overtaken in general, "While all this time the highway poured towards me/ Bringing you and the promise of words..." It's hard to argue that all poetry isn't, in some way, a search for meaning, but McCann simplifies his search to just the language we use, implying maybe, that there can be no greater meaning without recognizing the impossibility of meaning in the first place, "and I wonder what all your things mean..." The book then takes on the responsibility of beginning meaning by giving everything a name. Words have names. You have names. Lives have names.

And McCann pushes this idea by limiting his vocabulary; words, phrases and images are recycled to both limit and expand their respective meanings (brains, hands, teeth, knees, wrists, and birds, feelings, words, names). Sometimes it works by process of elimination, i.e., I don't know what I mean, but I don't mean that. Other times meaning keeps unfolding and expanding as if he were saying, I mean this and that and this and this and that too:

"It's almost as if I were saying these things
To someone--to you--or not even to you
You stood--like the day--by the beach--with you bag
While the birds and the traffic referred to themselves"

This book is a dance that is meant to mesmerize. This book is like Jamie Lee Curtis in "True Lies." Yes, it's entertaining, and in the poem, "The Visitor's Locker Room" (which seems maybe in reference to the U of I's visitor's locker room at Kinnick), it's even pretty erotic, but what you quickly learn, these are just distractions while McCann sneaks in cleans both your palette and palate, sweeps them free of anything we'd call meaning and remakes it right before your eyes. And though this will read as hyperbole, after reading this book it's easy to imagine it like a prism your white light just passed through...

Look at you now, you're all rainbows and shit.

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