The first poems in The Available World, by Ander Monson, reminded me of the song “This Year,”* by the Mountain goats–a song I love for its grit and its hope. On the surface I don’t share anything with the speaker in the song–no suburban or exurban angst, no drunken video game binges at the arcade, but I connect with the underlying humanity. Reading “Rich World” and “On Basketball” and “For Orts” gave me that same feeling–on the outside looking in, but understanding, I think, what I’m not seeing. Maybe it was these lines from “On Basketball”:
show them up in the arcade later, or on your
amber-screened Tandy, least sexy of all
conceivable IBM-compatible computers,
with Jordan vs. Bird: One on One.
It’s 1988. You’re probably a douche.
(I love the humor of the Tandy as “least sexy”; when I read “douche” I’m instantly back in the New Jersey years, my suburbs.)
And then the music leapt out at me–word play, but also sound play, as in “Avatar: Eclogue:
Pry it wide and climb
…..into the suit of it
its evidence, its realgirl O,
…..so cherryblossom burst
that you can barely believe
…..its lipstick and sashay, ashtray mouth
if you promise not to tell, its resolution refresh rate,
And in between all of this word play and the technology, there are the sermon poems, references to a sister who has died, references to a brother without arms, references to Wil Wheaton, and “Some of Have Fewer”–a brief, quiet, heart-shattering poem about a mother.
I couldn’t find a link to “Slow Dance with Icarus,” but here’s “Detail of My Sort of Light.”
And there’s more! I didn’t at first notice the link at the back of the book, but in looking online for poems, I reached http://otherelectricities.com/available/–the world made available as a journey through the poems, with notes and videos and no central navigation so that each link, each red word, is a package you’re opening, a little gift. (And the Icarus poem might be in there.)
*I love the song, but I vehemently dislike the video, so I’m not linking to it.