MIRRORS MÁSCARAS is the 3rd volume in John M. Bennett’s major series focused on particular topics that consists, so far, of LIBER X and OLVIDOS. It includes a series of typographic... More > poems in the form of masks, followed by textual poems in a wide variety of styles and forms, in English, Spanish, some French and other languages. Bennett’s inventiveness and energy, his visuality combined with highly literate, resonant, conceptual and aural beauty, make this unique work a force to change the language and to change the way language is used.< Less
Bennett has been the avant in avant-garde in the latter half of the 20th century with his Lost and Found Times, one of the great “small press poetry rags” of all time, and then through... More > his Luna Bisonte Prods press. OLVIDOS (“Memories”; though the word also and literally means “things forgotten”) is quite possibly his masterpiece. 339 pages of zany often inarticulate expositions of a kind of lunar madness that can only be the work of the descendent of such poets as Vicente Huidobro and Guillaume Apollinaire. There is most likely something for everyone here from minimalist visual techniques and zen-like koans to architectured poems such as “olvidos y fragmentos” with its enigmatic phrase “lock the boot”. But then the entire text is one immense sequence of enigmatic and puzzling dicta, summed up best in his own portmanteau word “hablacagada”. This is an important work and should place Bennett centrally on the map of great, innovative American poets. - Ivan Argüelles< Less
John M. Bennett, The Sticky Suit Whirs: Los Preolvidados.
From a deep whispering closet comes a “whirring like a/s tick y su it”, like an immense door of sound, preforgotten sound which... More > thus forms the protean shape of memory itself. These poems are language as water in flux through all its forms: rain, lake, fog, river, ice, steam, storm, sea, and a cup sloshing on the table or still as glass. At 67 pages, this short book has an intensity of expression and a swarming variety of voices unlike any other writing you can find. “...I/saw the crown of tree I/ni remumembered where/the flaucet was”; “...ticking in your/,throat the;;;;;ra/in )counted with a hammer”.< Less
Bennett is obviously at home with both Siglo de Oro literature and its linguistic excesses, as he is with contemporary avant garde literature with its multidirected experiments to both destroy... More > language and to re-create it. In short, this intricate and faithful-to-the-original (homophonically speaking) “translation” will surely find its place among the major experiments in contemporary poetry. -Ivan Argüelles
Bennett’s transduction of Sor Juana’s Primero Sueño was written, he has said, by “pretending I don’t know Spanish and writing it out (reading it) as if it were English.” This process arises from “an interest or attention paid to speech and hand writing as ‘texts’ full of meanings that have nothing to do with linguistics. I often read, or try to read, printed texts that way, too.” .... John Bennett’s project is as significant as any we will find in current poetical practice. - Jim Leftwich< Less