Gorgeously wrought collages and visual poems; textured, and hortatory lyrics; visionary letters to nineteenth-century geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell—these are just some of the linguistic and pictorial strata that make up Canyons. Belflower and Klane have collaborated here to make an important genre-bending contribution to contemporary literature: This is a stunning work of geoaesthetics and a potent meditation on the history of the American west.
An icon is not an iceberg. Unless … the calving glacier is Che—Matthew Klane’s Che. Sonic totem poles whittle away at the revolutionary’s fervor. Murals as brash as graffiti travel continents, ushering us amid lepers and snipers. This book is a bedside jungle. “What makes a man?” asks Klane as he trips on being Che. Guevara’s course turns history, torques typography. Be the vehicle. / Be the cogs in the wheel. / Be the tarmac, turning curved, / through the narrow pass of my nerves. / C, h, e. This collection is a grand addition to the collective collaboration that is Che. Fire and ice. Che, “Codex Zodiac Billboards.” Che, “Codex Xolotl (Soul Conductor).” Che, “The People’s Theater.” I wanted to live/ in the ether, / to storm / sense’s sentineled / gates— / to meet destiny, / grandeur / and wretchedness, / and stand in the winner’s / etcetera.
In much the same way that Zukofsky's "A" begins with a "round of fiddles" that embodies its vast aesthetic in the more intimate terrains of language, Matthew Klane begins B _____ Meditations by re-encoding the political as private: " Now Washington is within sinews / see in ink...." The mediations of CNN, in other words, are returned to the more immediate, to the "now" of our language and our very sinews. In doing so, Klane's ambitious and endlessly rewarding project dispels the idea that our politics are somehow "out there" and remote from our personal lives. However, even when playfully declaring that the "center is simple, man," this work is far from a utopian or idealized gesture. Instead, B _____ Meditations insists that our personal and political centers may be a matter of simple language and sinew, but those compositions are extensive, difficult, and intertwined in the commonplaces derived from both our private lives as well as our shared histories and cultures. Klane deliberately evokes the spirit of Whitman in his use of salvaged song lyrics, idioms, political speeches, advertisements, and a stunning assemblage of found language. The result is a "republic of rubble" whose plenitudes are sometimes pressured, and require careful parsing else they risk engulfing our subjectivity amid the " litter : : leitmotif / fossils : : layers lost / asphalt : : total awe." However, these submersions are also potentially liberating in that the hybrid language of B _____ Meditations becomes a kind of alchemy, or a re-scripted "constitution of / interstice-inanity" that challenges its readers to reexamine the complex nature of our shared identities and discourses.