Joshua Ware, Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley
6×8. 84 pages. Paper. $12.00.
ISBN 10: 0982629931. ISBN 13: ISBN-13 9780982629932.
I tried to resist Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley, and I will say that extending the bracketed progressions even one more term would be too much. Joshua Ware has us – three times! – “Drink Ghosts into Ghosts,” and we do so out of cups made from Russian nesting dolls, undone. Ware’s book is so tight in its nexus identification and twisting, it provides not only a through-line to particularly compelling precursors, but a lifeline for American poetry – with his raveling/reveling and all, these are the knots to grasp. Magus Magnus, Furniture Press Prize 2010 judge
I react to Joshua Ware’s poems as he reacts to mine: with lust to use. Reader, turn to page 47 and read the poem “Eris.” It is a more ethical poem than the one I have written with the same title. There I once wrote of the Empire that “overwrites / the already-there,” using the iris (slippage of eris) as conceit and the figure of the stamen as phallus—a cynical sketch of unilateral power. I forgot the Greeks thought of the stamen as “thread of the warp,” but in his having intervened a new poem from mine, Joshua Ware did not forget. Instead, he insists in the paradox that “one must actively forget” in order to find “the difference of the new.” Ware is a Deleuzean devotee; in his aleatory reassemblages, he nurtures new and anarchic lyric networks, dissembling the centre’s hold. Among these poetic ruins, he skeptically convenes with the ghosts. Richard Greenfield
The fluctuating horizon of each page where poems dissolve into “Explanatory Notes” suggests the contemporary poet’s struggle with lines and lineages entangling the lyric in a tradition shaped primarily by its hostility to tradition. Ware illustrates the writer’s task, alternately fruitful and frustrating, to accomplish the poem as discrete object while experiencing self as fluid and associational, with a promiscuous appetite for language stimulated and satisfied as much by Frankfurt School philosophy and schoolyard myth as by Aaron Sorkin’s television scripts and Lacan’s Disney. Ware’s book questions the possibility of transgression in a culture made by uncertain boundaries. Elizabeth Savage
Joshua Ware has written a book of poems so ambitious and urgent that the pressure of narrative and literary theory meld into one thing: the mind in service to flesh, the flesh in service to the urgencies of naming and human destructiveness–and its erotic and deathly experience. The book is both a lyric call to life and history, making and unmaking, and an act of ironic revulsion–and always a howl of grief and regret. Brilliant. Hilda Raz