Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tom Lisk's Five Most Significant Books from the School of Metaphysical Distress

From the School of Metaphysical Distress

Russell Sprouse, Bicycle, Tricycle, Dates (Sickle Pattern Press, 2008)

L. Green Siena, The Used Food Restaurant (Levitigussie Booklets, 2009)

Penthesilea, The Clear Album: An Invisible Record (Silence Publications, n.d.)

De Foe Godowski, Somosa Theory: Gas is Oil, Gas is Petrol, Gas is Gone (Second X Press, 2009)

Lu Mozingo Scott, Black Details (Flatt Press Press, 2009) From a series “tentatively titled,” White to Roy G. Biv to Black. Black Details is the last volume. Also, predictably, the first.


Tim Botta said...

While all of these titles typify the aesthetic of the School of Metaphysical Distress (if such a thing even exists), it is the Clear Album: An Invisible Record by Penthesilea (available on Amazon?) to which I first turn my attention.

It pains me to give this volume only one-and-a-half stars, and yet I must. While the title is a nod to the Beatles' White Album, there the similarity ends. Who else is as weary as I am of poems about such tired topics as ornamental plants, intermittent rivers, and speaking clocks?

A brief quotation from this horrible pamphlet will suffice:

"What is Esperanto?/ Why is it superior/ to Volapük?/ From what
do pleasurable dreams/ result?/ Why is it difficult/ to distinguish/ between/ some animals and/ some plants?"

All that I took away from this book was eyestrain. Save your money--and if you've already bought it, save your receipt!

Tim Botta said...

I award a binary star to the Used Food Restaurant. My restraint is admirable. At the binary finery shop, I purchase all my reversible clothing. But a used food restaurant? This is confessional verse at its near nadir. Shall I quote? "From used food I make a buffet!"--singer as hash-slinger. If this, ahem, "booklet" were a restaurant, the sanitation (or sanity) rating would be so low that the place would be shuttered permanently. Moon, June, greasy spoon. In the poem "Virtopsy," Siena wonders, as if anybody cared, "How many moons would equal in brilliancy/ the light/ of the sun?" Later, Siena further stretches his faux-naïf persona by asking, "Why is the torpedo a wonderful fish?" Wonderful fish it may be, but Used Food Restaurant is far from wonderful (any kind of wonderful) and should you have the misfortune of owning this book, I suggest that you trade it as soon as possible at your local Used Book Store.

Tim Botta said...

Demented, abrasive, regressive--regressive as skipping from bicycles back to tricycles--the writing of Mr. Sprouse lingers on the mental palate like the scent of oven-cleaner in the nostrils. I give it three stars. Sickle Pattern's trademark pebbled white cover nearly put me off with its sickliness and discoloration, but I braved the book as physical entity and was rewarded mildly with verses such as these: "Have the balloon/ and the flying machine/ become factors/ in competitive/ contests?" Yes, yes, they have--indeed, they have! I chuckle as I close this volume. Thank you, Mr. Sprouse, thank you!

Tim Botta said...

If I had to pick a single writer to represent the School of Metaphysical Distress, it would be Lu Mozingo Scott. And I despise the School of Metaphysical Distress! So you know how I feel about this volume. The book is part of the "White to Roy G. Biv to Black" series (would it were a mini-series!) and while the cleverness is pleasing at first, it ultimately irritates. How did abysmal lines like these ever make it past an editor (or even MS Word's grammar check)? "Read: the past tense of violet. ore: a hinge: yell: ow!: gris: e'en: buh: lackened: dig: oh: vie: ole: et?" And here we have in a nutshell what's wrong with the School of Metaphysical Distress. The poet has become a kind of mechanical chess-player, making his jerkily executed moves without the least bit of thought, wit, emotion, or style. But perhaps I'm being unfair--to mechanical chess players! The reader becomes not a manic, grinning, shouting, madly applauding audience-member, but instead merely a tired, confused, hungry spectator, praying for relief from the endless boredom as he sits in a stuffy, overcrowded conference room for hours and hours and hours in the late afternoon while a monotone voice with a microphone drones on and on and on about the colors of the spectrum and chess pieces are meaninglessly paraded back and forth, back and forth, across the barren page. One star.

Tim Botta said...

In these energy-challenged times, a title like this is like a chalice of honey attracting the reader to the pages inside. Unfortunately, once I dipped into this disappointing volume, all I encountered was the typical School of Metaphysical Distress (SMD) tripe. To read this opuscule is to become catatonic. The vapid Mr. Godowski's work is the verse equivalent of an annoying application on one of those social-networking sites. All we can do is click Ignore and hope it goes away. Let me quote some of this horrid leaflet so that you may have an inkling of the misery I experienced by reading the entire thing. Apparently this piece is Godowski's stab at improvisation (from a work entitled "Evening at the Improv": "Fake the clip fake the bop chop spill. Glop! Chip the goat knock the rat oatmeal. Bubble the heap globe the weird. Pop the joke leap the fawn. Hobble the rabid slip grope. Weep the soap. Fake the chip bubble the leap grope. Clip the goat heap the fawn weep. Fake the knock globe hobble the soap clip."
"Fake the bop chop spill," indeed! De Foe Godowski has been faking the bop chop spill since he first placed his fingers on a keyboard. It's time that the exhausted School of Metaphysical Distress ceased and desisted from distressing us with their ceaseless verses.