Wednesday, October 26, 2005

BRAMBLE by Joseph Massey

Bramble (a book of lunes), is now available from Hot Whiskey Press. Ordering information can be found here.

6" x 5", 52 pages, stab bound. Covers letter-pressed at Naropa's Harry Smith Print Shop. First five buyers have the option of receiving a limited edition black cover version of the book. Cost of the book: $6.50.

* * *

Post-Slacker, Post-Post-Avant, Post-Smiths, Joseph Massey is the Li Po of the Beaten Generation. Pithy, angular, and always sincere, these small poems reward reading (now) and rereading (after a few pints). Massey writes, breathes into being "what's between us" -- these poems are not personal, but Personist in the best way, giving a calm, steady voice to moments most of us miss. In Bramble, stillness gives way to communion.

--Anthony Robinson

* * *

In the tiny space of just 13 syllables, each poem in Bramble takes the reader straight into the thicket of sight sounded and sighted sound, that wide awake eyes and ears peeled attention to what presents itself in each moment: a memory, a dry-rotted garden hose, a bumblebee, nameless blooming weeds on the lawn of a burnt-out house, even the slippery in-betweenness of the act of listening/reading itself...

here, the one speaking
& the one
listening, is you

Given the strictures of the lune form, what's particularly exhilarating about this crisply constructed book is how inclusive Massey manages to be. Echoing Darwin's admonition, "Never say higher or lower," squashed ants, wads of gum, and pigeon shit find their rightful place alongside the earthy ups and downs of the human realm in a seamless web of democratic particulars. Taking dictation from the weather, Massey's disciplined and deeply ethical poetics steers clear of the all-too-human temptation to fiddle with, fix, or prod the world (think of Whalen's "You'll only make things worse...") into an anthropomorphized Disney World of how we'd like things to be; he knows, like few other poets, how to leave things alone. Bramble reminds us musically, humorously, and humbly not to miss the this of "this is all there is."

--Tyler Doherty

* * *

Indeed there is "the page behind the poem" and there is the poem behind the poet or perhaps it's the poet behind the poem. Difficult to say. One can be easily be lulled into feeling Joseph Massey's chapbook is transparent only to let her guard down and slowly be penetrated by his whisper-like magic. The lips of Bramble say "this is all there is" but its eyes say "behind each breath your life lets go."

--Reb Livingston


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