Sunday, January 3, 2016

Poetry Monday: PoemTalk95: Robert Fitterman’s Sprawl

It has taken me a while to catch up on PoemTalk - one of my favourite podcasts.  There hasn’t been a single episode that I haven’t enjoyed - I really liked the previous episode 94, which explored two poems from CA Conrad’s ‘(Soma)tic Midge’.  But since we’re already in January, I thought I’d share the latest episode, which is an exploration of five sections from Robert Fitterman’s book Sprawl published by Make Now Press in 2010.  All of the pieces explored are actually available in the Penn Sound archives so if you go to the PoemTalk link here: you can listen to the episode (which also contains Fitterman’s readings) or listen to the individual poems read aloud.  These poems aren’t what you’d call lovely.  They’re kind of mock-consumerist, full of sound-bites, and familiar enough to be uncomfortable for the listener.  They’re full of vernacular voices, opinions, commentary at the shopping mall, on social media, or private conversations.  Fitterman’s reading, which is funny, sound almost like a comedy skit by Steve Wright.  Rodrigo Toscano likens Fitterman’s mall to Dante’s rings of hell, and if you’ve recently been shopping in a mall, you might agree (I might have made that comparison myself last time I was at Westfield).  PoemTalk’s very intelligent group featuring Al Filreis (as always), Michelle Taransky, Rodrigo Tuscan, and Laynie Browne suggest other possibilities in the work: the mapping of consumer culture as an archeology condensed to existentialist profundity.  Is that going too far?  I’m not sure, but I enjoyed their exploration very much, and as always, this podcast continues to teach me new ways to approach difficult or heavily conceptual poetry with an open mind and a multitude of possibilities.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  

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