Monday, June 04, 2007

Recommended Reading

The Guns and Flags Project -- Poems by Geoffrey O'Brien

Three times during my reading, and rereading, of this book, I realized the various cafe's I was sitting in were all playing Fine Young Cannibals' She Drives Me Crazy, and I really wanted to make some sort of elaborate symbolism out of it, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't do it.

So I'm sorry to say, this book recommendation will be tragically free of Fine Young Cannibals. O'Brien's poetry, however, is an exercise in pace and line. Imagine if Baudelaire had written Song of Myself and given it over to e.e. cummings to edit. Imagine -- go ahead -- that's where the joy of this book begins. In The Guns and Flags Project we find a new way of listening to and recording the world, the hum of all the deepest shadows around us.

His photographs are large print photographs of a discourse on death at the edge of winter when snow warms to fog, and the world, still asleep, threatens to live again. The beauty in O'Brien's poems are a compelling oxidation. A density of thought woven out as a quilt of a language game with politic in the periphery and at its core, a new mode of interpreting sign and symbol to replace the current, which deteriorates as we watch, unwilling and unable to become involved.

O'Brien's poems are a densely layered world of rich color, cartographers, skys, dichotomies, and the nervous movement of the world. His poems are both smart and clever. Not a syllable goes by that doesn't challenge the reader, all the while respecting the intelligence of his audience. O'Brien refuses to thin out that which does not need to be, a lyric in the vein of John Ashbury and C.D. Wright. He uses subtle refrain, core groups of word and image repeat within poems, and within the book as a whole to create an atmosphere, a climate, and a new landscape of choppy discourse like a failed ocean in autumn.


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