REVIEW: Think Tank by Julie Carr
by Douglas Piccinnini
César Vallejo, Inger Christensen, Alice Roberts, Louis Malle, Alfred Tennyson, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, William Shakespeare, Andrew Zawacki, P.B. Shelley, David Glimp, Stephen Ratcliffe, Lisa Robertson, Erin Mouré, John Wieners, Robert Urquhart, René Char, John Ashbery, David Hume.
In the residue of “old devotions” and new meditations, Julie Carr’s Think Tank archives the still-digesting data from a-life-in-books into the mind, into the body. From the body, Carr gives back a novel text in an act more nuanced than ventriloquism: Think Tank dialogs in the ear-marked pages of ‘literature’ in a style that mirrors the craft of folksong and of jazz; to expand the role of inherited ideas and exponents of style; to take input and produce an output worthy of praising and pushing the boundaries of the art(form).
And at once, the space of this book and the space of the body achieve an act of synecdoche, in which the body is an extension of the book and the book an extension of the conscious body.In this way, Carr is able — to borrow a line from Carr via Inger Christensen — “to circumvent death and communicate presence.”
As equal parts homage and transformation, the long sequence that makes up Think Tank dwells in a metalepsis of poetic selves. Its alert, yet forgiving, engagement with the “sharp rocks of indeterminacy” yields more than pastiche. As Carr writes,
And narrative illusion breaks down metaleptically
Transforming expectations of early and late
Bubbling in “yeasted minutes” the resulting work presents an “effort to amass some new time” and track a consciousness of melodies that dialog with Vallejo, with Notley, with Myles, with Hume—among others.
A careful reader sees the many minds at work in this book and takes note of the overarching gesture that values the superimposition of selves that form the narrative of our lives and, as Carr trumpets, via Notley,
One has a secret self, a rather delicate pondering inner person. Much of poetry exists to communicate with this entity.
Carr’s Think Tank broadcasts an involved music that roams along the historical dial of thinking and makes a strong case for the pleasure of interior life and the pleasure(s) of thinking.
Solid Objects (2015): $16.00
Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Story Book: a novella (The Cultural Society, 2015) and, a collection of poems, Blood Oboe (Omnidawn, 2015).
Read an earlier view of this book on the Volta Blog here.