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Disarming Matter
By Edmund Berrigan

ISBN 0-9669430-0-7
82 pages

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Given the leg-to-stand-on fullness of his own devotions upon emergent occassions "in the space/time sh-bang," Edmund Berrigan is what? A pilgrim, sometime scraggly, biblical character (Kenneth Patchen curbside) almost too belated to impersonate. A very good metaphysical poet, there's a lot to be said for that. Son of the second-generation New York School, dealing with echoes of his own making, as well as with apologies to childhood, he can pirouette like Roberto Benigni and sigh deeper than Kim Novak. His is a capable wonder ("A voice...singling out starlight") at having been unmistakingly cast as an indented self who (thereby?) accepts the whole picture as his charge: "Neither thistle nor/ thaw impede" the well-welded rhyme: the perfect little Max Jacobian prose poem: and beyond that ("Angel") "which often have been seen" to be believed. The slightly down-toad look that won't refuse a need: "Blessed be anyone/ who comes after words & uses them to ends with no stop."

--Bill Berkson

With a perspective sharpened daily in every American morning and then turned on its ear, Edmund Berrigan translates what we can't quite put our finger on and gives us back a raw, pure lyric of disclosure.

--Maureen Owen

You read along, you stop, you have little balloons with question marks appear above your head. Then you remember that good old Keatsian admonition not to "reach irritably after fact or reason": you switch gears, you proceed with both delight and caution. That's the kind of book Edmund Berrigan's Disarming Matter is, the best kind I'd say. Prefaced by wonderful titles (Mellow Crypt, I Feel Tractor, To Eddie & Myself), crackly mono and disyllables dance with awkward grace or graceful awkwardness, the mode most suited to the disarmament of matter. Berating other British music critics of his day (the 1920's), the great Northumbrian poet Basil Bunting said that they misjudged the new music "because they do not understand that cacophany is at least as intricate an art as harmony." Edmund Berrigan's poems have a music all their own, and once you start hearing it, you'll read along, you'll stop, you'll have little balloons...

--Anselm Hollo

From Disarming Matter:

Desert Wreck

Dry heat washes the sand
Better pray for opposable thumbs
The towns wandering in their altitudes
Are split across my leather boots
Into an automobile wreck near the theater where
"Love Bug" has been playing for the last six years
My long hair walked it street for street
No stranger is anonymous here Jennie Jenkins
I knocked out two of your teeth in the ninth grade
Only the second fight I'd ever been in
And as I drove up the river the the urban inferno
I had surrendered all my thoughts to one
That I'd absolve you in the back seat
And reinvent the constellations into stars

To Eddie & Myself

My friends are the piecemeal maids of
my home, wicked scrawled in squall around
the rooms that we have transposed to inhabit
like some blood made without body. I call
a thousand miles just pace, speece as if zeros
disappear into electricity. I've heard artificial
absence uncode itself to upset the nature of its
relation. If somewhere was to pray, it would
long have cut its start. No one is just, but many
will fight just to, as if nothing else, make their
presence known. There's no helping this part.
I haven't made it anywhere, I feel, as if on my own.



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