just got back from Kent Johnson & K. Silem Mohammad reading, downtown. should have hung around to say hello to Kent, at least, but was feeling shy & unsociable. spoke to poet Karen Donovan there, & CD Wright, briefly (we talked about Angola prison, near New Orleans). shook hands with friendly Michael Gizzi.
enjoyed hearing them - maybe write more about it tomorrow.
Kent's poetry projects a lot of heart & emotion - but at a slant, in a game. His clear unaffected writing style is a good vehicle for the larger set of weird rhetorical fun & games. but people miss the heart part, perhaps.
sometimes he does understatement very effectively : other times he could use it more - like when he (unfortunately) hammed up the Jaime Saenz translation he read. that should have been done in understatement.
the broad strokes, the hammer-blows - say in the Abu Graibh poem - might be looked at as coming out of Hispanic rhetorical tradition he's familiar with, but we're not so used to. but it was appropriate to the situation (ie. the prisoner abuse)
Kent has a real inventiveness, a particular scene-setting talent, that blends so well with the directness, the simplicity of his sentences, his style. it makes for dramatic poetry. unusual in the arch atmosphere of post-avantism. he can write political poems.
(nevertheless the recurrent obsessional object - insider po-biz culture - is not really worth the excessive obsessiveness - tho it makes a nice target for satire sometimes, I guess)
I liked Kasey's "Forest Ranger" poem best, tho even in that the comic persona was a bit derivative. It was very funny though, I was laughing away.
Otherwise the poetry didn't interest me too much, the flarf in-your-face too baroque for my taste.