MLA Chernoff, 60 pgs, Hybrid Heaven, $12
New Montreal press Hybrid Heaven’s Delet This is a quick, funny read that fits the publisher’s mandate to produce “work that speaks of the now.”
In a debut collection, MLA Chernoff finds a tone that is simultaneously obnoxious and charming. Replete with emoji, text-message orthography, and purposely upsetting fonts, Delet This is the kind of anti-poetry many attempt, but few do well.
In the piece “might delet soon but felt cute in this pic,” Chernoff posits a key tenet for the book: “th temporary tempts poetry.” Indeed, Delet This positively drips with this year’s internet, and the book will surely drift towards unintelligibility as its parade of meme-allusions and gossip lose their freshness. But this is a feature, not a bug. Delet This is an exercise in a certain type of provisional self-deprecation. Not of the personal kind, where unconfident shtick substitutes for humour — rather, Delet This constantly undoes itself, subverts its own momentum, and keeps us on edge. “it isnt a passage or a typo,” Chernoff writes, “but a glitch: / slippy, slide, n glide / from glitsh to glisser / n back again”.
The poems in Delet This don’t amount to much — none stands out more than the other, none is particularly memorable on its own. But Chernoff is a very talented writer, whose smart-aleck style suggests that substance is overrated anyhow.