“Notes from Irrelevance” and “Revelator”

Friday, December 12, 2018

I have withheld two books from the list of “best” books of the current decade until this point so that they can receive a special note of commendation. It’s all too easy for a list to mute the distinctiveness of a particular item, and today I want to call attention to a pair of books that are each a single poem. From first line to last, each book is in the mid-sixties in terms of page length; these are books, therefore, that can be read at a single sitting, in the same way that one could listen to a double-album. You’ll want to have some liquid refreshment close by, though reading these books may well absorb you so thoroughly that you will neglect that sip of tea or ice water in favor of scribbling a note to yourself about your favorite lines. Of course, you might also find yourself wishing you had a manual typewriter, so that you could sit and type up a copy of the poem for yourself, slowing down your “impression” of the poem by imagining how each word arrived, unexpectedly, to the poem’s realm.

Notes from Irrelevance — Anselm Berrigan (Wave Books, 2011)

Revelator — Ron Silliman (BookThug, 2013)

(For those who know of my work as an editor and publisher, my interest in and preference for “long” poems will come as no surprise.)