Working in the tradition of populist modernism – what William Carlos Williams called “the American Grain” – I imagined poems as essays “improvised” along the principles of spontaneous composition (the “variable foot,” “composition by field”). As essays, they adhere to a multitude of popular expository genres: the oration, the rant, textual exegesis, the rap, the soliloquy and dialogue, the curse. Among contemporary writers, I drew inspiration in equal parts from Rae Armantrout, Amiri Baraka, Kamu Brathwaite, Bob Perelman and Robert Pinsky. I hope that this montage of styles and political orientations helps me to get at some of the precariousness of the present moment: an impossible rhythm with which Ornette Coleman helps me to make an honest peace.
cover design by Regina Schroeder