(Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness
Wave Books, 2014
Whenever I read CA Conrad, whose poems I find as potent and brave as anyone’s alive, I end up asking, “Who else is taking these kinds of risks?” I read a lot of poetry. I seem to be one of nine adults left on the planet who still subscribe to and read literary magazines. Most of the poems I read just seem so careful, so eager to flash knowledge and earn credentials. Not bad poems, not bad at all, just semi-dehydrated. Impeccable and careful poems suitable for publishing in a tasteful university press volume entitled, Poems For Tenure.
Then there’s CA Conrad. In Ecodeviance he describes an exercise wherein he approached men in suits on lunch break in Philadephia and asked them, “Excuse me sir, on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being thin and creamy, and 5 being cottage cheese, how do you rate your semen?” Conrad is unafraid to query businessmen, minerals or ghosts; the results are often spectacular.
The poems in Ecodeviance are the results of rituals created by CA Conrad called (Soma)tics, “ritualized structures where being anything but present was next to impossible.” The rituals serve as the source for a body of notes that then become the basis of a poem. Each poem or set of poems in the book is presented with its ritual of origin. (I hereby predict that these rituals will soon be so frequently imitated and assigned in Creative Writing programs that a boomlet of CA Conrad imitations will result. This is not a bad thing. At very least it will provide a respite from Raymond Carver imitations.)