164.1: Toby Altman:: Aubade (O, bawd!) & Landscape with Wind (devoutly to be wished) & Folding (and unfolding) & Blazon (of an undivided sphere) & Habeas Corpus (that you might have the body)
9 December 2013
These selections from Toby Altman come at a time when I am nose-deep in a book about ventriloquism. In the first chapter, the author explains that the world of sound is often much more disorienting than the world of sight. Sounds emerge and dissipate, reflect and echo. Sounds are notoriously more difficult to locate for the human ear than landscapes are for the human eye. It is this quality of disorientation, or perhaps, aporia, that Altman hopes to achieve in these poems. For Altman, the avant-garde at this moment in history threatens to become predictable, an academic exercise of formerly radical techniques. To break out of this predicament, Altman proposes a kind of "rescue," discovering in materials diverse as verse plays and Petrarchan sonnets a poetry that hopes to achieve a kind of "placeless" effect, an aporia that at once liberates and frustrates traditional and avant-garde aesthetics.