Oakland poet Justin, Etc. has brought together a first collection of poems that explores and breaks open the poetic range of motion. Through redaction, intimate curations of objects, and the radioactive dispersal of lines and their breaks, Self-Portrait of the Poet Suicided by the MFA Degree carries in its wreckage a subtle heartbeat. This is a tragicomic wandering through what’s left of a heart and mind on the brink of disassembling, on the verge of reassembling.
At first glance, the wary reader may label Justin, Etc. a hoarder of words, but in truth he is a collector of rare antiques, lost oddities, and never-before-released vinyls. His poetry seamlessly blends the things that were with the things that are, forming musical narratives that span the pop culture of decades as well as our modern concerns. This may sound like some vast ground to cover, but Justin, Etc. is a cufflinks and sneakers kind of man. He pulls it off. The best way to enjoy Justin’s work is to let it intimidate you, then to embrace it. By the end of this book, you’ll find you’ve started collecting too.
::: Praise :::
Desuetude means the condition of not being in use, and Zukofsky said that the goal of a poem is to “achieve perfect rest.” Yet we all know how incredibly active poetry can be, phrase by phrase. Such is the poetry of Justin ETC’s, pruned to such a perfect excess, we would never want anything less: “the surveillance & subtraction of shock-white blossoms / electrocuted w/ AM Gold bourbon / abulia, swimming pools, & sacred bone shard reverb.” A brilliant observer of American culture, he is a true connoisseur of our chaos: “her heart is a DeLorean w/ its doors swept up into the aortal allure.”.
~ Paul Hoover, desolation : souvenir (Omnidawn)
There’s checking for range of motion, as when an obstetrician manipulates the arms and legs of a newborn to look for full movement potential, and then there’s finding range of motion in Justin, Etc.’s new poetry collection, witnessing a flexibility of the imagination that blows the poetic range chart to bits. These poems do not stay put nor stay tethered to safe and sane poetic themes. They bust any tether that threatens to tie them down and shows us what can happen when a poet has the mind and guts to create poetry “imbued with w subtle heartbeat and the wherewithal to write.” This is a terrific first collection of poetry that moves.
~ Toni Mirosevich, The Takeaway Bin (Spuyten Duyvil)
::: Book Review ::: From Beach Sloth
::: Release Reading ::: From LitSeen
::: News Article ::: From SFGate