Monday, August 29, 2011

Out from Otoliths — Tom Beckett's PARTS AND OTHER PIECES

Now out from Otoliths

Tom Beckett
80 pages
Front cover image by Rosaire Appel
Otoliths, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9808785-6-1
$13.45 + p&h
The difficulties that language presents have their analogues in life. Whether posed, or proposed, or just tenuously poised on the thin line that divides articulation from understanding, the phrases and phrasings of Tom Beckett's elegant and nervous Parts and Other Pieces challenge the givens of experience. The excitement and beauty of this four-part book are the product of a mismatch between words and worlds. And it is, indeed, a beautiful and exciting book. Variously witty, angst-ridden, melancholy, sweet, Beckett's parts provoke a powerful whole. —Lyn Hejinian

If Tom Beckett cares about anything, it’s everything. “Are you with me, Columbus?” Why yes, you are, we naturally reply, since Beckett has asked us a question he already knows the answer to, since he loves and respects the durability of our imaginations, desires, impulses and anxieties. Our answers, in substance and scope, are the very near silent dialogues that Beckett hears in the thought acts generated by poetry: openness taken from the shadows of openness alone. Beckett’s poetry has always reminded me that we are all in the process of our obsessions, where “What I might be able to do for you and not myself is to/mirror you,/establish your presence.” Tom Beckett is the poet in all our poems, goofing off when we harden in our terrible seriousness, and in the next moment, attentively concerned with how loud we just laughed. —Jordan Stempleman

Tom Beckett writes from the lab. His work, in its observational acuity, gives back to us all the stuff we see floating in the peripheries – of language, of social order, of identity – and places it smack dab under the lens. Where it pulls us in, performs for us, makes us marvel at its range, occasionally repels us, often makes us chortle. Parts and Other Pieces is alive, emotionally raw, self-effacingly hilarious, and ultimately quite beautiful. Beckett is the master; we’re damned lucky he’s got the white coat. —Jessica Grim

Tom Beckett's Parts and Other Pieces bristles with a fierce, rhythmic relentlessness. These are poems of urgent self-reflection, caught between the demands of everyday life and a consciousness haunted by spikes of piercing perception. —Charles Bernstein

“As a writer,” we read in an interview with Tom Beckett, “it can be more important to pay a lot of attention to a few things rather than a little attention to a lot of things.” Touché! Beckett’s new collection begins with a sequence of questions posed on the Ohio State campus (Goodbye Columbus!) and responds with a series of answers—not quite to the original questions and hence all the more pertinent and mysterious. The connection between A and B is provided by the middle section, “Between Asymmetries,” whose maxims, written under the sign of Emerson, enact the truth that “Language grids support the inexplicable.” The final poem, the minimalist “Parts” provides the “break (brake)” that makes everything that precedes it come together in one radiant whole. —Marjorie Perloff

Also by Tom Beckett & available from The Otoliths Storefront:

This Poem / What Speaks? / A Day

& the three volumes of the classic interview series:

E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The First XI interviews
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Second XV interviews
E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S: The Final XIV interviews + One


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