if you are born, you’ve been screwed / into existence
Carson Pytell is a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net nominated writer living outside Albany, New York. He serves as assistant Poetry Editor of Coastal Shelf and has had a number of other chapbooks published in the last few years.
As part of a package deal with the excellent Back Room Poetry (who, for full disclosure purposes, are publishing a chapbook of mine in April) I have purchased all the small press’ output for the next twelve months. This is the final of three releases I’ll be reviewing in January, and there’s a far more mellow feel to this collection than its predecessors.
What’s in it for Me?
Welcome to a microcosm of reality, where our author’s history and narrative collide in an often understated but never predictable fashion. The clues to what you’re experiencing are here to unearth and take in, between the stanzas and hidden in the white spaces, as to why Pytell’s work deserves your attention. His history is written with care and often surprising attention to minutiae over spectacle.
There’s a surreal lens at play too: The Pangea Complex and At this point have their words placed squarely in the poet’s gaze, and it takes time and effort to adjust yourself to the positioning. Once you get comfortable, though, American nostalgia, personal histories and late nights alone are all illuminated in an unassuming, singularly remarkable gaze, and a lingering sense of personal isolation remains that is as sobering as it is well-constructed.
However, it is in the process of stark narrative (Nails on a Dry Erase Board being the standout poem) where motivation and world view start their slow, controlled staining of everything else. There is a necessary discomfort in this world of mundane wonder: it doesn’t have to make sense, but it absolutely needs to exist. As Roulette states:Life, like colour and taste is subjective / as comfortand these poems are very much here to challenge what your definition of comfort really means.
Stars for the imagery Roulette for the inference I named my right hand Sonny for the impact
Any Other Business
When I’m reading work, I tend to find myself looking for music to accompany the business of poetic absorption. In this case, I found myself being pushed back to a film that I’d not seen for many years. I’d be interested to know if the poet thinks of this association, as I find myself feeling an awful lot of my reactions to his work in the narrative. Paris, Texas also has one of the most evocative soundtracks I’ve ever loved, and going back to Ry Cooder’s work on Spotify was very much like returning to an old friend.
Poetry is meant to make you think: these poems allow an experience of life that you never knew existed.