Visual Poetry | $17.00 | ISBN 13: 978-1-934254-55-4 | Binding: Softcover, Perfect
Advance Praise for Kern:
The detritus of signage is all around us. Wherever we look we see signs telling us where to go, what to do, how much it will cost. The 78 poems in Derek Beaulieu’s riveting new collection begin by resembling the signs, logos, and slogans of everyday life—and then become more and more unreadable. No two of these constellations—made individually by hand using dry-transfer lettering (letraset)—are alike; each promises something it cannot quite fulfill, as readability, having failed, gives way to lookability. So suggestive are these images that we cannot stop looking, trying to decipher, to arrest the flow. For the Kern poems present moments of poetic nostalgia for the signposts of a past that never fully existed. Rejecting our advances, they say to the reader/viewer: catch me if you can! And in the meantime, enjoy the promise of each moment: it won’t let you down.
—Marjorie Perloff, Professor emerita Standford University
Kern tweaks the white space of the page, arranging language while unsettling letters. Machines made not of words, but characters, these poems crank and churn, antiquated material rattling to life beneath Beaulieu’s beau frottage. The eye scans the boggled mass, seeing patterns within the patter as words stutter and boil while D.B. minds our b’s and q’s, p’s and d’s.
Do letters have lives? We have to wonder, seduced as we are by the antics of these characters. The tradition of taking alphabetic forms and making them into suggestive glyphs, their phonetic and graphic attributes seeming to cross lines of reading/seeing protocols, has a complex history in the signs of masons, brands, trademarks, monograms and graphical poetics. In Beaulieu’s latest volume, Kern, the principle of enjambment is put to poetic purpose, invoking precedents in work of Hendrik Werkman, Christian Morgenstern, Mary Ellen Solt, and bpNichol, among others. The Canadians have long had a penchant for graphico-visuo-poetics, and Beaulieu’s innovative contribution is a living demonstration that poetry is about unleashing the potential of combinatoric protocols to drive the performative art of letters on a page.