Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Out from Otoliths — Sard, by Philip Byron Oakes

Philip Byron Oakes
68 pages
Cover image by Sheila E. Murphy
Otoliths, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9807651-6-8
$12.50 + p&h
URL: http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/sard/9579586
Reading poems, such as “Whoever Answers the Door”, in Philip Byron Oakes’ second book Sard, reminds one of a grandiloquent room—very modern and posh with amenities, and at the ready to receive the exhilarated mob attempting to enter all at once, in a crush of three or four abreast, through a door constructed for one and one only to enter in style. Luckily we have Philip Byron Oakes to defuse the chaos, magically narrow the door, creating tension, putting things in order, resetting the ratio of things to their meaning once again. The thrill of exhilarated facts, “the whirlwind scuttling/a moment of stillness”, of cultural information streaming off of each page at the speed of sound, places the reader at the crux of a savant’s poetic genesis, displacing the literal with the dancing heads of the figurative and in a big way. Often joking while performing his circus of fire eating acts, he gets around to lavish spectacles “Sooner or loiter.” Details mount and accrue, as what is real—objective—is less satisfying to observe than the ritualized, impeccably imbedded electrical buzz and charge of these manic fragmented tableaux holding place as they surge. Oakes writes as he guns the motor. There is a sense of vertigo that appeals to one’s right brain and left brain simultaneously. The language swirls—a whirlpool of stochastic images encountered without fault. The poems are, I feel, impressively unimpeachable—shards of focus as imagined works of art. What we are witness to is the random miracle seemingly made plain—a vase of flowers torn from a table by a cyclone in Kansas (the house ripped to kindling) and placed down serenely in Sarasota or Reno without so much as a petal harmed. Such is the force of the poems in Sard. Sard is a chaotically ruled, brilliantly conceived, devastating regime of organic and supra-organic devices that are as delightful to think about and ponder, once having read them, as they are to read. —Raymond Farr, editor of Blue & Yellow Dog


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