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Book Review :: Maths by Joel Chace

Maths by Joel Chace book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In Joel Chace’s Maths, each page is “serving as a threshold” between the author’s “original writing” and “mathematical commentary.” There is a sense that by combining these two lexicons the author is solving for something akin to inclusivity and unity. Or, are the combined poetic and mathematical vibrations an assertion against whoever, whatever keeps languages separate? The focus of each page is complement and connection between components, creating a collaged page aesthetic that elicits engagement with the visual and the written. Each page is a “structural oddity,” a disordered space “the contents / of which entirely depend upon where / I take my stand” or, where a reader takes hers. Upon engaging the pages of Maths, I was confronted with a feeling of trauma being enacted, an “awful math” of catastrophic accident and “the odds” of irreparable destruction: “Less than one minute to tear open so many years.” There is something being made of the predictability of humans and numbers, of humans as numbers—a unifying treatment of discrete and continuous variables. Chace’s is a book “dedicated to solving / the riddle of its own existence.” In the end, “everything falls into place, each / beautiful number and function.”

Maths by Joel Chace. Chax Press, 2023.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear. More at https://jamimacarty.com/

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