Initially spurred to submit The Lateral on a dare from his fellow poet kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Jake Kennedy later went on to win the 2010 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. His book is comprised of three seemingly unrelated sections: an elegiac found-long-poem to Kathy Acker (now in spirit); a series of strange prose-poems on the conditions of poetry and 15 short poems that all include the phrase “fucking asshole.” Each comes with its own intriguing qualities.
The second, more challenging section touches on a wide variety of topics: imagination, the other, perspective, the division of the artist from the everyday and many more “high-literary” themes. Kennedy’s treatment is just as the title implies. The poems do not broach topics head-on or from behind, but rather from the side, using quotations from other artists and writers, jokes, puns, curse words, insightful criticisms and more. The text blends high, low and everything in between.
The found-long-poem “Acker Cortege” is one of my favourites. Composed of isolated Flickr hashtags that include “acker” or “kathy acker,” the poem falls into the Kenneth Goldsmith-influenced category of unreadable text. The piece is not only an homage to Acker, but a rethinking of writing in the age of the Internet – a theme popular amongst Kennedy’s contemporaries. Not only does Acker’s legacy lead Kennedy to produce more writing (art begets art, of course), but, after traversing through this landscape of visual imagery, his words lead the reader back to the real world. (Eric Schmaltz)
Jake Kennedy, 67 pgs, Snare Books, snarebooks.wordpress.com, $12