Friday, February 22, 2008
Now Available: Out of Light, by Joseph Massey
By a stalk of
up from brush
that skirts this
Praise for Out of Light
I read Out of Light straight through (rare for a book of poems) when it arrived late yesterday: and again (rarer still) this morning; focusing different facets of the prisms. The echo I felt was a memory of the pleasure of beginning Merrill Gilfillan's Magpie Rising -- dispassionate language that shares a passionate view. That I was driven to learn more of the history, geography and politics of Humboldt County is a bonus. With this collection Massey has removed the last traces of clutter and lets emotion dance to nature.
For those familiar with Joe Massey’s work, Out of Light should continue to impress with a particular eye, and an equally particular ear, for the sensual or sensate. If it is true that the observer always alters the observed through the very act of measure, then Massey has certainly made an art of such alterations through the singular event of the poem. “No ideas / but in things,” Williams might say, but this no longer suffices. “A thrust of // things— / a world— / words—// crush / against / the margin of you” says Massey, and throughout this collection of exacting poems one is apt to experience a tension between how the poet’s world acts upon him, and how the poet acts upon his world, wherein the consequence of every act is measure itself. In Out of Light, there are no ideas but in such interactivity, an interactivity that bespeaks Joe Massey speaking. For those unfamiliar with his work, you will want to listen. And for those familiar with his work, you will want to listen—again. And again.