Not Even Then: Poems

Not Even Then: Poems

Not Even Then: Poems

Not Even Then: Poems

Synopsis

Not Even Then, the debut collection by Brian Blanchfield, introduces a poetry both compressed and musically fluid, beseechingly intimate and oddly authoritative. Blanchfield conducts readers through a unique, theatrical realm where concepts and personages are enlivened into action: Continuity, Coincidence, Symmetry, and Shame keep uneasy company there with Marcel Duchamp and Johnny Weissmuller, Lord Alfred Douglas and "Blue Boy" Master Lambton, Juliet's Nurse and Althusser's Moses.

With its kinked and suspensive language, Not Even Then draws on the lyric tradition, even as it complicates that tradition's dualism of self and other. Likeness is always under investigation in the book's irreducible arrangements of alterity. From "Red Habits": "I imagine the interferences explained / in don't-think-twice and reverse advice / and by habits for both head and breast / hers and hers as red as mine at chamber check. / We are each herself a further interference." No answer rests unquestioned in its turn; even the book title's cynicism is challenged by a poetics alive to possibility, where Possibility is--impetuously, ecstatically--companionable. "The listener you are," writes Blanchfield, "the less alone."

Excerpt

Careful, a night set on edge
the European tradition of virtuoso
and the raw desire to articulate.
I pushed them both backward on the bed in the end
and each played on, one first
try and then another.
Soft then on succession thought.

The instrument all torso is loved where are held
fitting the flown down housemartin with a reed
or belying midway uncertainty
in tandem the hands, and acts adolescent.
A natural vaults a natural
development, his farther back barn jacket
American and strewn as if spare.

Thought soft the crescendo all along
saws, neither stroke inward or from the heart
except it begins unbecoming
building in roomy youth.
We have our no, libido, go.
Then all limbs arms and loudly I don’t want to
play down the skillless touch.

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