9 oct. 2008


Nathaniel Mackey. Splay Anthem. 2006. 126 pp.

Mackey is a poet who does have his style together at the level of the word phrase and line. He writes in the Olson / Duncan tradition of late modernist long poem, and this book would reward more study than I can give it right now. I guess where I come up against my personal limitations is in the question of buying into the whole mythopoetic narrative. There seem to be a group of travelers going from one place to another and exploring historical topoi. I should be interested in this, since it has jazz and Spanish history, even an isolated Lorca reference. The problem is in enjoying the verbal play of the particular sections while keeping track of where the poem seems to be going. The verbal density doesn't necessarily work well when threaded on that larger structure. which tends to a certain diffuseness. I might quote several lines that are impressive, but maybe less impressive in the context of huge expanses of similar passages.

(Another New Directions imprint.)