WHAT A TREMENDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING! by Nick Sturm

13 Apr

WHAT A TREMENDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING!

Nick Sturm

io Poetry, $8 (includes shipping), 21 pages

  1. Nick Sturm’s work stumbled into my inbox as I was editing Stoked, these bold Basic Guides, to Truth, to History, to Home Repair, these radical poems that stretch the imagination and capacity to hold onto a poem, the poet behind it, this voice telling you something we hope is important.
  2. And I’ve stumbled around Sturm and his work ever since, flailed in the dark, in love with this style, this voice.
  3. And eventually I put my head on this pillow, okay it’s a chapbook, called WHAT A TREMEDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING! (oh you wild child, all caps AND an exclamation point), each poem that same title, each poem that Sturm-booyeah of mind-energy.
  4. Three rad TREMENDOUSes at iO Poetry.
  5. The titles are repetitive, but more importantly they are reminders.
  6. I asked Nick once why not a long poem, or sectioned, or titles are necessary? or what? He said it is a series. I said a series of what? He rode off on stampede of horses. Or maybe it was a birthday cake.
  7. I think something I love lots and lots is the child-like fascination with the world. No, that’s not right, kinda dumb to say, rather I mean that unfiltered unbogged lens used to look at the surrounding glob, look within it, that thing lost with time of life, of writing, of cracks called sucky moments.
  8. Here is an example: “Take off that ridiculous hat & tell me you love me/is what I want to say but my tongue is not so evolved.” Then it trickles in the weirdness of the tongue, generations of crabs taking apart teeth, before circling back to all that in this youthful heart matters: “which is when the world was the size of a gazebo/with one undying heart at the center of our lives.”
  9. Have you seen that stop-motion video Sturm made for one of the poems. I watch it and think that is how these poems exist. They are tiny movements and wacky objects and the string holding it all together is an emotion that is not fleeting so much as it is fast, not silly as much as it is overwhelming for the speaker, for us, for everyone ever.
  10. What is forever? It is everything, man.
  11. The other day I told someone that I’m interested in poems that are sincere, but then I asked myself HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT OR EVEN WHAT THAT MEANS. I don’t.
  12. Charles Bernstein’s poem “The Republic of Reality,” specifically I’m thinking of the passage “mimicking maniacs like it was/going out of the question, when/you fall upon a fellow with/falters and a fit for a glove:/not the machine in your/eye but the ladder in your/mind…” seems to offer something about what I’m struggling to say here, a poem lending itself to a review trying to lend itself to a hunk of poems. What I mean is these poems are wisps of poetic identity, this chatter about the self, excluding not a thing, reaching and reaching.
  13. Maybe like a poem that starts wacky then punches you in the mouth, dude. “A whale is not a type of information/Neither is a ship’s rigging nor a peach tree/If you were not alive you would already/know this.”
  14. Maybe like the poem that ends it all, burrowing in that place where, yes it is okay to be silly with the lights on: “My dinghy can catch some wicked air/Let’s go to the carwash & chew on the sun/Let’s go to the capital & use our hands/Our hands which are a chance for music” and still get back to what we’re talking about, to never really leave what we’ve always been talking about: THE TREMENDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING
  15. Yeah, I know she’s talking about Edward Hoagland and his essay about turtles and about CNF in general, but I can’t get this sentence out of my head, from “The Situation and The Story” by Vivian Gornick, about how these Sturm poems tackle and tangle with objects, weird wild and real, yet there is that speaker, that voice I wanna hug: “The reader realizes that the man who’s using turtles as a stand-in for human intimacy has been there from the very beginning” (p.51).
  16. Maybe like a poem that worries about friendship and self-disappointment, “It is so embarrassing how nothing out there/stays together How playgrounds build up/in our jaws but we never learn to play right.” Or the ending of that poem “Sometimes I just want to give up & say/watch this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  17. I like Nick Sturm’s poems for their awareness, how they go to the place, bounce around, the voice and its lovely echo, shifty lens, from the spot where it needs to be to the spot where it needs to be.
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