yr yr by Matt Margo, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

yr yr
Matt Margo
2017
Ghost City Press
29 pp
Free to download with or without donation

 

 

It is difficult to characterize “experimental” or “avant-garde” poetry definitively. However, it is widely accepted that these forms break with conventional practices. Matt Margo is a recognized promoter of experimental poetry as a writer and Editor of two poetry journals and as Publicity Director for Gold Wake Press. They describe themselves simply as “a person who writes,” though their identity is, also, defined by use of non-binary pronouns and non-gendered creative work. Margo’s 2015 poetry collection Blueberry Lemonade, established them as a prominent young poet of “angst,” addressing trauma and neurotic impulses. Rather than being a collection about the interior self, however, yr yr‘s poems position the writer in relation to language. Their poem, “sea,” exhibits the form of pieces throughout the chapbook, words or phrases separated by various graphemes unique to each composition. Titles are short, single words—“animal,” “craft,” “killer,” “whale,” “mind[less],” “arts.” Each word or phrase might be considered an element to itself, and, in a post-modern sense, meaning or interpretation is, for the most part, surrendered to the reader.

 

sea

sample of mint leaf ÷ matrix equation ÷ the end of the season

÷ relatively peaceful ÷ a raised stone basement ÷ beyond the

clouds ÷ performance and precision ÷ the science of human

history ÷ seen to be sympathetic ÷ this pathway is

suppressed ÷ boob tube inanities ÷ wrecked off the coast ÷

completely in lowercase ÷ eternal dream ÷ group stage ÷

coach of the dragonflies ÷ superparticular ÷ all animals be

stunned ÷ the variegated pink ÷ determiner of shoe sizes

 

“sea,” and the other compositions in yr yr, can be understood as true examples of minimalist “collage poetry,” and, if we are not to consider these poems as random collections of words and phrases, we must assume that they are intentionally positioned, perhaps, via the writer’s process of free-association. Whatever the derivation of these pieces, they are Rorschach-like, and, if not intended for diagnosis, are intended to provide pleasure and non-representational fantasy. Sometimes, poems contain references to titles, such as the phrases, “in the hydrostatic equilibrium” and “a sudden change in the atmosphere,” in the piece titled, “fog.”

The poems, “futures” and “transient” contain the phrases, “opus of chaos” and “state of chaos,” respectively, possibly hinting at Margo’s view of themself in an uncertain world. On the other hand, they may find comfort in “a universal human language,” an element of the poem, “logic,” and reminiscent of Noam Chomsky’s formulations about “deep grammar.” In the poem, “gazelle,” one phrase highlights “pure poetic fantasy,” that may be a coded message about how the writer perceives their collection. Similarly, in the poem, “winter,” they embed the phrase, “derivation is uncertain,” within a poem whose elements are otherwise [seemingly] unrelated. However, in at least one poem, “red”, Margo includes the phrase, “form follows function,” an element linking the compositions, and the writer’s view of them, to serious critical scholarship, in this case, about the writings as a whole.

However yr yr may, or may not, be connected to the mainstream literary scene, all poetry is fiction and cannot be completely realistic—though we may want to believe otherwise. With this collection, Margo has transitioned from a type of literal interiorization to poems that increase the distance between writing and reader. yr yr reveals Margo’s aesthetic authority. They have seemingly moved beyond personal conflicts to address the contradictions, ambiguities, and complexities of adult life. I highly recommend this collection to any reader interested in ambitious and mostly successful examples of contemporary Experimental Poetry by a young writer, and I eagerly anticipate their future work.

AAA_Matt

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