Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tony Lopez: Covers

Covers, Tony Lopez (Salt Publishing, 2007)

Covers, the dust jacket tells us, is a "deeply derivative" work – derivative, not in the sense of being imitative of other poets, but of drawing its language – the whole of its language, "unencumbered by any poeticizing feedback," Bob Perelman says in a blurb – from outside sources. One can recognize bits & pieces of other poems, newspaper reports & copy, various types of journalese & essayese, even a series of fragments from papers delivered at a Pound conference. It's all, oddly enough, concatenated in a very traditional manner, at least to these ears. Lopez is neither a Flarfiste, mining his sources for outrageousness & the shock of the hyper-banal, nor a conceptualist, hewing closely to a method – though there are traces of both of these approaches in Covers. The poems here have clear shapes (is this no more than a readerly impression?), & for the most part clear, even emphatic, closure. Even in a hyper-late-modernist mode of radical collage, Lopez preserves the ancient functions of delight & instruction – or at least laus et vituperatio.


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