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Metamericana

  • Image: Image
  • Book Type: Poetry
  • by: Seth Abramson
  • Date Published: 2015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-60964-194-8
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 120pp
  • Price: $16.00
  • Review by: Benjamin Champagne
A good poem places pressure on language in an interesting way. This mantra can be peeled from the pages of Seth Abramson’s Metamericana. However, his secret seems to be that a good poem places pressure on ideas in an interesting way—that a good idea places pressure on old ideas in an interesting way. Philosophy places pressure on technology and technology places pressure on philosophy. All of this interacts in a swirling and kaleidoscopic manner.

The Metamodernists use the prefix meta, derived from Plato’s metaxis. In Metamodernism, it is the movement between modernism and postmodernism that grants a static and stable nature. Elements that were often opposed now seen to be one, mostly irony and sincerity. To achieve this, Abramson uses conceptual poetry, the creative methodology of which he describes at the end of the work.

The book begins with two patterned pieces. The opening poem is called “Genesis”: “Much made of little. Little made of knowledge. Knowledge made of scholarship.” The poem continues on like that for an entire page, the movement from each subject fluid and logical, occasionally funny or transgressive. A further glimpse provides more insight:
Moonlight made of fantasy. Fantasy made of cleverness. Cleverness made of ridicule. Ridicule made of Hondas. Hondas made of steel. Steel made of Superman. Superman made of Marvel. Marvel made of DC. DC made of politicians. Politicians made of turkey. Turkey made of banks. Banks made of efficacy. Efficacy made of ink. Ink made of blood. Blood made of chocolate. Chocolate made of God. God made of Bibles. Bibles made of laws.
His commentary on what it takes to create a fantasy is all rolled up in the clever turns of phrase he delivers. These in turn help him to comment on politics and society from a position that lacks self­righteousness. The poems arrive in these positions naturally and move out of them just as easily, passing through God, Genetics, Uncertainty and Humanity. The poem finishes by saying “Men made of women. Women made of women. Women made of women. Women made of women,” assumedly into infinity.

The next poem is similar in that it creates and sticks to a pattern. But it dissolves quickly and seems more concerned with the form than the content. While “Genesis” moved easily from one subject to the next, it could have moved in different ways than it did. Abramson’s word choices we’re more deliberate. “Wii” says:
We’re like Anthony and Cleopatra. . . . We’re like Jack and Jill. . . . Like Bonnie and Clyde. . . . Like AT&T. S&M. T&A. M&M. . . . OMG. CO. IBM. FI. TMI. . . . ID. AC. TD. I. HD. G. F. . . . CC. Id. Pi. Bi. d. Op. Lo. Da. Ba. Ay. Oy. Um.
He shows you the guts of thought. And then moves into poems based on formulas. “The History of Dairy Queen” is a found poem with one simple addition that turns the company into Hitler’s Army. “#SADTOYS” is a poem created using jokes from the television show @Midnight’s website. The insights into the creations of these poems aren’t listed until the back of the book in most cases, making the first reading somewhat bizarre without knowing all of the logistics and methods.

“How Long It Takes” is a prime example of Abramson’s method for this book. It comprises the first 75 results of a Google search for the phrase “How long does it take for.” The average duration reported for each phenomenon was used to order the sentences (shortest span to longest). Search biases include search date (May 30th, 2014), the search conducted from the author’s home PC. Because he says himself that he is “fucking with not just literary but cultural conventions,” it is avant-garde poetry. This wouldn’t exist without commentary incorporating Google and the internet. “Zero Kool” is a poem composed entirely from a Reddit-inspired website. The book doesn’t get much more meta than that.

In the center of the book rests a Meta­Epic, “T.C. Boyle, ‘On So­Called MetaModernism.’” This poem deals with Abramson’s own views on the movement he participates in by being meta itself. Everything in Metamericana is both conceptual and confessional. We “came through seventy years of postmodernism still wanting to feel human, still wanting despite all we’ve learned.” While Abramson dabbles much more in the conceptual than the straightforward, it becomes clear in one of the final lines of poetry. “Text of a 1997 Letter from Pol Pot to his Daughter” says “May all your collisions be jarring, my dear.” This is to mean that human interaction is supposed to be complicated and difficult, and so is great poetry.
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Review Posted on June 01, 2015 Last modified on June 01, 2015
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