In Living! Go and Dream, Julien Poirier imagines what newspapers would be if souls had no bodies to contain them but simply sloshed back and forth under the moon, roaring and howling, sometimes whispering or crooning to one another. It’s musical instruments made of reptiles on rocks. It is both prehistoric and post-apocalyptic.
Perhaps this book is grown-up nursery rhymes, what children would have written if they wrote the New York Times. Perhaps it is poetry disguised as breaking news. If Ferlinghetti had A Coney Island of the Mind, then this book could be A Times Square of the Soul. It takes and embodies Marshall McLuhan’s statement as both teaser and disclaimer:
It is both disorienting and grounding to read poetry this way. As a poet myself, I at first felt slightly traitorous, and then profoundly vindicated. Of course this is “All the news that’s fit to print.” Poetry always is. This paper is all poetry, all the time, and it reinforces the understanding of life as poetry, that there is no more important thing you could be engaged in, here, today, at this exact moment.
Despite what you now may be thinking, I believe there’s something for everyone here. I didn’t really get into the Fortinbras-as-medieval-storm-trooper-fighting-a-fetal-war piece, but I really loved all the appearances of the fiberglass tattoo blonde on St. Mark’s Place. One I accept that every news story is a poem, I can pick up anywhere and immediately become absorbed. Every word is an entry-point. I’m reminded of a recent review of Judith Kitchen’s Circus Train in the L.A. Review of Books. The author notes in Kitchen’s essays, “the accretion of meaning gained, not through linear narrative, but through the space and reverberation of the author’s collection (and recollection) of language, image, and scene,” and I would say the same of Poirier here. This book is a collection of fragments that pulls at the reader from the inside so that the insides reach it first, and we are all turned inside out. The present surrounds us, and past and future are swallowed up.
With all its fragmentation, Living! Go and Dream creates a universe that unapologetically broadcasts the plausibility of a life that runs concurrent with the dream, a life that is itself a dream, an Earth on which Poetry never sleeps.
Living! Go and Dream is available for free from Ugly Duckling Presse
Heather Brown received her MFA in poetry from Oregon State University. She lives and writes in Portland, Ore. and works for Powell’s Books, Inc.