Chapbook, Thurston Moore and John Kinsella, Vallum Society for Arts & Letters Education, vallummag.com, $12
It isn’t clear how Thurston Moore — of Sonic Youth fame — and Australian poet John Kinsella came to collaborate on this Canadian-made chapbook, but they certainly make strange bedfellows. Though Kinsella’s no stranger to contemporary tropes, he tends to be influenced by history, landscape and environment; the few poems of Moore’s that are scattered across the Internet are modernistic, frenetic and off-balance.
For the most part, A Remarkable Grey Horse reads like the print equivalent of a remix, and it appears as though Kinsella has allowed himself to stretch more than Moore has. It’s not hard to imagine Kinsella writing the base text for these poems, then allowing Moore to come along and replace half of it with off-the-wall words and imagery. “Rounding the Point,” for example, opens with, “Rounding the point in heavy weather / they aim for the harbor,” but a few lines later devolves into, “flights to the cinema are tonight / and tomorrow morning : / the improvisor’s (!!! … sexplosion ).” It’s certainly possible that Kinsella wrote that “sexplosion” line, but it doesn’t seem especially likely.
A Remarkable Grey Horse boasts a modern sheen, but it riffs on Anaïs Nin, Doris Day, Rimbaud, jazz lingo and traditional folk songs. Moore and Kinsella have managed to concoct something that could be described as graceful punk — it can turn from unruly to refined and back again without skipping a beat. (Scott Bryson)