Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Charles Alexander: Near or Random Acts

Near or Random Acts, Charles Alexander (Singing Horse Press, 2004)

A shy, unassuming charm to this volume; the 1st half is 70 7-line, 5-word-per-line sections, the second half a further run of such poems, this time interspersed with Alexander's notebook entries & notes on the manuscript & compositional process. An "opening-up," as it were. The parallels of the 1st 70 poems – "near or random acts" – with Zukofsky's 80 Flowers are obvious (Alexander himself makes the connection in an author's note at the end): the word-count constraints, the quotidian nature of much of the material, (sometimes) the allusions. But Alexander's aren't LZ's hyper-dense nuggets impacted history, philology, & allusion, whatever inspiration he may have taken from Zukofsky's last completed work. Instead, they're rather airy, highly musical units, suffused more often than not with a quizzical wonder at the spectacle of the poet's growing young daughters. A rather rare thing for me lately, & a very welcome one – a book of unabashed & enthusiastic love.


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