Friday, January 25, 2008

John Sakkis

The Movable Ones
Transmission Press 2007

“salt and fish
a bony wish”

The highly prosodized units with broken lines in The Movable Ones really sizzle. (Remember our agreement about the word "lyric".) They feel spoken, epistolary and often incredibly artful, imparting details of daily life, love, family, travel, sex and war, as well as the history of individuals and their efforts to transcend, mythologize and survive modern times. The work is careful, subtle and yet hot.

The Movable Ones investigates the fact of being Greek American (having many cousins) and other complexities of contemporary identity. The cover of this chap is a map and a lot of traveling occurs within the text. It seems to occupy a sort of Robert Duncan/Michael Palmer nexus (and is there some Whalen in there?) that might seem a bit surprising if you actually know John Sakkis and yet not. John has, so far as I can tell, completely infiltrated the on-line experimental literary community, while frequently showing up in the actual community and not infrequently sending out excellent books and other items by himself and his friends, including his magazine BOTH BOTH (which is a blog but is the mag still going?) So if you cross the above-mentioned Duncan/Palmer sensibility with a sort of fast, cheap out-of-control tendency (which is also unquestionably A Tonalist) – there you have it – The Movable Ones.

I was sorry to miss John’s reading with Mark Linenthal a few weeks ago not only because I would have had the chance to hear him read with a Poetry Center compatriot from ancient days – but also because it is not often that I get not to be the oldest person in the room. It was an interesting choice to pair those two readers. I asked the organizer, Rob Halpern, about the reading, and heard that the venue was packed and that Suzanne Stein made an enthusiastic introduction of John. Rob goes on to say that “John read from his recent e-chapbook rude girl (duration), which made me want to reread the whole thing immediately: rich with both indirect narrative temptations and direct lyric address. He followed this with a selection from a forthcoming chapbook called Gygax, named after the creator of "Dungeons and Dragons," Gary Gygax.” (This sounds great!)

So there is more about John Sakkis than I even knew I knew -- and with any luck I will have more soon on those introductions.



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