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Jake Berry:

Runaway Spoon
PO Box 3621
Port Charlotte FL, 33949

70 pp., $10.00

For several years I have been reading (and seeing: some have major visual components) these pieces in magazines and anthologies, and while they never fail to intrigue as separate works, the effect of encountering them all together intensifies (and clarifies and enriches) the experience exponentially. The texts are connected and/or contrapuntal, and at times they are graphically absorbed into the texts that follow, or are even obliterated by them. There are sheets of words, slabs of anaphor, paralinguistic passages (like the title itself), words scattered in graphic formulae, and almost purely visual sections. The whole represents an inherently impossible but at the same time inherently necessary voyage of total consciousness beyond language within the context of language (or symbolic representation), from the opening "legion swollen faces drift through sentient blue-orange empty space..." to the closing "I vanish and everything is everything/ is everything/ like nothing idiot singing." The concerns of this vast, almost musically constructed work, are consciousness and language as its vehicle, a universe structured as a somewhat destructive (or dynamic) conflict of under- and over-realities (which perhaps, the work suggests, derives from the mind's struggling to perceive), and an evolutionary but a the same time circular process of psychic or mythic history. This is not "literature" as "good writing" but literature as an attempt to know (control) what might be. It has, however, passages of such intensely charged writing that, as a reader, one is compelled to engage with and grow from Berry's work. A major work, only glanced at here, which will become essential reading. Includes an introduction by Jack Foley that provides a useful contextualization of Berry's work in the spectrum of American Poetry.--John M. Bennett

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #5,
Copyright Burning Press 1994, 1996.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press