02/23/2013 8:00 pm
Whirling Metaphysics is a jazzy, aromatic, and spirited poetic mandala. 'Notice what you notice,' Ginsberg instructed, and Clifford Brooks does just that, with mindful attention to every facet of human existence. Enjoy life, his beautiful poems remind us, because life is all we have.
As Keats could be drunk on words, sinking Lethe-wards, so too do Clifford Brooks' images and wordplay. While the places the poet rambles are wide and varied, and little that is beautiful or ugly escapes his attention, he refuses the temptation of cynicism--'dismissing,' as he writes, 'Nietzsche's way around murdering God's wonder...whispering we aren't damned.' A poet of Negative Capability, Brooks embraces the formal and the casual, the exuberant and the melancholic, the long sequence and short burst, as he takes us in his double-volume debut, on a trip 'In the imagination/ without a map, compass busted.' From Etta James to Baudelaire, Yeats to Faulkner to the Beats, Miles Davis to Monet, from L.A. to Tupelo to Savannah, it's a wild ride and one that's sure to stick with you long after daring to jump in.
Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's mariner, we are in a maelstrom of many names. Cliff Brooks calls this maddening place Ignoracium and in Whirling Metaphysics he gives us both a lexicon for exploring and finding a way out. The spirits of Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are alive and restless here.
The magnum opus of the collection is a poem entitled, The Gateman's Hymn of Ignoracium. It is here that Dante, the Waste Land of Eliot, Ovid, and Cicero merge into a unique voice. Brooks acknowledges this in his close analysis of sin, redemption, and the monsters that are born between.
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