Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Joseph Bradshaw. The Way Birds Become. Weather Press.

http://weatherpress.blogspot.com



One of the most focused and fully realized books I’ve read in a long time, Bradshaw’s The Way Birds Become is an aesthetic project that far surpasses the constraints it sets for itself. Each poem begins with or builds from a line captured from another writer’s poem & the effect of this cacophonous chirping is surprisingly unified; even with these poems “all broken, singing / different songs” the reader gets a sense of one epic movement. The pleasure here is tied generally to two effects: 1) that of seeing theory/constraint put into practice successfully & 2) that of following the workings of one mind on a single, & constantly blooming, topic.


In practice, each of these poems are full of mysterious aphorisms, hazy folk wisdom from the back of the brain that feels right:


If you look out a window from within a bird

you’ll be frightened by the idea

that it’s an eye […]

(C—)


That’s mostly how these poems develop, direct statements with syntactic or grammatical clauses added that either clarify or change the underlying ideas. These poems are almost devoid of ego; though occasionally they seem to reference something particular – some moment recollected or some situational emotion – the stakes here are decidedly processual, in motion, each poem presented as “evidence / of a sounding.” Even without the development or intimacies of an easily locatable “I” speaker, the poems here are conversational, visionary without all the heady pronouncements & unapproachable exteriors.


Bradshaw ends the poem “E—Hitchcock, The Birds (1963)” with a kind of explanation / apologia for the collection as a whole:


[…] birds become roads after they’re

transformed into and from the weather they once forecasted.


The Way Birds Become exists in the balance of inspiration & impulse, & demonstrates that the surest way inside can be facilitated by forces from the outside.

http://gentlyread.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/the-caedmon-room-nate-pritts-chapbook-reviews-2/