Mako tries his hand at a semi-wildstyle piece with vivid fill-ins. A smiling Gumby takes the place of the O. Photograph by Ben Ostrowsky.Another clump of Jeremy Noel-Tod’s “Definite Sentences”:
. . . in resisting the old-fashioned resistance of formal inscrutability—the shaping stanza, the free-verse line-break, not to mention larger rhetorical gestures than the disjunctive new sentence can carry—the counter-cultural irony of Silliman’s project to expand the narratives of America through alternative ticker-tape streams of ‘readable’ sentences runs the risk (like the supremely consumable canvases of Photorealism, and the ruthless satire at which America currently excels) of becoming strangely forceless, and even symbiotic with the forces it opposes.
In this, the single-mindedly progressive Silliman—prospective author of a poem called Universe—resembles D. H. Lawrence’s shrewd caricature of Walt Whitman, who drove his ‘great fierce poetic machine’ ‘along the track of a fixed idea’: ‘ALLNESS! shrieks Walt at a cross-road, going whiz over an unwary Red Indian.’ Both poets are social visionaries of half a continent of synchronous detail. But at the blind spots of Silliman’s commentaries, the ironic hymn-sheet-sharing between American poets and politicians who would roll out ‘universal’ values continues as Lawrence described it (The joining of hands around the globe between the American far left and far right may be witnessed in Under Albany’s bullish footnote to its gloss on the sentence ‘Uncritical of nationalist movements in the Third World’: ‘The creation of the European Union is itself a desperate attempt for several governments, formerly “world powers”, to reimagine themselves as relevant.’ Relevant to whom?) ‘If the function of writing is “to express the world”’, muses the opening sentence of ‘Albany’. The world expressed by Silliman’s new sentence texts and blog posts tends to be the New World (North)— . . .