Thursday, August 24, 2006



Boxd Transistor by Jon Leon
(Coconut Poetry, 2006)

Boxd Transistor is an e-chapbook by Jon Leon, available online from Coconut Poetry. Leon is a writer who I've not read before, so tabula rasa for me. This presents the challenge of my finding my way. I groped a bit when I began reading this work, trying to catch what he was doing. That's called challenge, and challenge is good. His writing favours disjointedness. I could believe that he cuts up his work, because of the fragmentary nature of many of his phrases. In that sense, the work reminds me of Ashbery's Tennis Court Oath. Whether he does cut up doesn't matter, I must simply read what's put before me; cut up certainly is the effect. In Boxd Transistor, one finds many apparently truncated sentences. Verbless phrases abound as well. What to make of this? Here's my guess. Leon's writing displays a hurry and agitation. Call this a sensitivity to the incompleted moment. I was listening to a group of teens talking the other night. They were in another room but were easily heard. Their conversation darted about, excited, desperate, congenial. Yes, they went all around the subject because they didn't know it was one. And yet some entity in that room, called Their Conversation, which never ends (not really), made an agreeable connection with all of them. That's the feeling that I get from Leon's work. His own darting, desperate and wry congeniality exists in and as these poems. I see that as process coming awake. The poet confronts the terms of poetry beyond those emailed from excellent professors and the like. I guess that's an assumption that I make, but I mean it more descriptively. Anyway, I give but a partial picture if I speak only of the fragmentary nature of the poems here. One also hears a plaintive, funny voice. There again I note a resemblance to Tennis Court Oath tho I don't mean to hang any influential albatross around Leon's neck. Once again, I am trying to describe an effect here. With both writers, it seems like an embrace of disintegration, tho golly, I hate tagging anyone with such a dull critic phrase. One can infer something of a narrative in Leon's poems. Not stories exactly but, let us say, guarded instants. Narrative is a funny thing because, seriously, how linear can we really be? I'll tell you: not very. We hop from idea to idea, impression to impression. I wish I could hear Leon read this work, because I'm not confident that I hear the sound well. His abruptness sometimes sounds like a carefully orchestrated clatter of plates. I don't know if this is good, meaning I stumble at times with the truncation and ellipsis. My question would be: do all phrases (lines) carry all they should? It's hard to tell, but I'll admit that this is my problem. I can't speak for Leon, that is. I meant to quote some of the humourous, quirky nuggets—the breath of non sequitur—that fill this chap, but I believe I'll just cite their existence. I think more importantly I should suggest to Honoured Reader what I infer of the tracking of this work. Jon Leon distills the language and events around him. It strikes me as an energetic and exacting exercise. You can either read Boxd Transistor online or download a pdf of it here. You can print out the pdf (including cover) and staple it into a non-virtual chapbook. I say you can, because I never figured out how to print it in proper alignment so that the book would collate as it should. Not to let that detract from the work, which is itself, serious poetry. Kudos always to any way to make work easily available.


Allen Bramhall has published one book, Simple Theory (Potes & Poets Press, 2002), maintains an electrifying blog called Tributary, and shares a birthday with Herman Melville, Jerry Garcia and Lt. William Clark.


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