Root-Cellar to Riverine, Tod Thilleman (Meeting Eyes Bindery [Spuyten Duyvil], 2009)
Tod Thilleman's been running Spuyten Duyvil as long as I can remember, & he's published some memorable books indeed: the best, for my money, the three volumes of Norman Finkelstein's big Track project & Peter O'Leary's luminous Watchfulness. (SD's also keeping important things of Michael Heller's in print, &, yes, they published – & did a lovely job of – my own Anarchy.) So ashes of shame on my head for never having explored Tod's poetry before the lovely Root-Cellar to Riverine turned up in my mailbox. It's a quirky little book – a single long poem in something like 60 12-line, very small-format pages. Thilleman has a music all his own, sometimes lyrical, sometimes dissonant; pretty consistently surprising. I'll admit "root-cellar" always sets me thinking of WCW's "cat" poem – you know, the one with the jam-closet & so forth. But Root-Cellar is very un-Williamsesque: more an assertion – nay, a demonstration – that ruminative, considerative poetry is still possible. You've got to admire Thilleman's ability to leap from the jars in the cellar to the meaning of life; and it doesn't at all hurt that the poem to my ear 's shot thru with echoes of Briggflatts.
I'm glad to see SD back on deck, after some heavy weather, with a (relatively) new(ish)* poetry imprint, Meeting Eyes Bindery. A couple more things on my shelf I'm looking forward to opening: Richard Blevins's Captivity Narratives, which looks like precisely the sort of history- and text-based thing (Stephen Collis, Susan Howe, Olson) that gets me excited; and a twofer, Breathing Bolaño, which pairs (in different print orientations) Thilleman's Breathing and selections from Blevins's Corrido of Bolaño, along with a chunk of the two poets' correspondence.
Perhaps I'm trying, given the new year & so forth, to be a bit more directed in my poetry reading this time around. We'll see.