by Jerimee Bloemeke, Henry Finch, Jeff Griffin
"I am just a mingo in your katzenmeyer.
Look at you in your pretty girly sweater,
at ease, kindling for the kindles,
a memorial to sons and fathers of the craft,
something blown by blowers,
elegies in evasive tongues,
forever plum, the greatest ripened heirloom."
Luxury Arcana simultaneous participates in and dispels surrealistic tradition. It is not simply a chapbook. Neither is it a full collection. Luxury Arcana is traversing an underworld and an overworld—a vertiginous, ethereal language crafted as experience. It is a flowing translation of Oakland Cemetery as poetry and plastic art that can be disorienting, challenging, but speaks to the poetic ambitions of a generation. A plot pyre built upon years of ennui and hubris, of itinerant longing and lies:
" … The spiritual
ascent into suburbia makes me
fall into another fountain, walking
into femininity, the only sovereign power,
a Sidebottom, a bud just opening,
as plain as an olive van drives a dirt road."
If these excerpts do not strike you as something novel, something jarring, perhaps you were never a reader of poetry. There is something in Luxury Arcana that even I, seasoned poet and thrill seeker, am unsettled by. There is a great newness to this, a large debt of which is owed to the collaborative processes of the three poets.
"Collaborative processes" = initial individual creations by Contributors distributed amongst Contributors then translated by Contributors, creating secondary individual creations containing exclusive remnants of the prior, initial individual creations that were then schematically compiled by Contributors sub rosa into LUXURY ARCANA.
The artifact itself is a rhizomatous creation with no distinctive beginning or end. There is an incredible seamlessness to the crafted book that further contributes to the overwhelming mimesis of the language. How does one write a cemetery? What image can one include that accurately represents the experience of looking for a name out of the several hundred decomposing—once loved or reviled, but alive?
It is a record of three poets transcending the elemental shadow of poetic tradition. Three in search of voice as filtered through the eyes of the accompanying other.
--Review by Andrew E. Colarusso