Kyle Schlesinger’s The Pink is a small book that literally hinges open. Its stiff cardboard covers open squarely to reveal a center. A centering. A balance from which to proceed. "Life comes in the middle..."
A more pliable
With these carnations at our cold doorstep comes an invitation. However, instead of the Prom, at times it seems we have ended up at a Wittgenstein discussion group… or maybe a "date" in the letterpress studio. We are treated to a tour of a workshop, jargon and all.
The work has a glimmer, though, when Kyle reveals the contentment to be found through craft. In a poem dedicated to German poet Ulf Stolterfoht (and my favorite stanza of the book) he is thematically Epicurean and almost metrically classical:
Look at the sea
Running like Kraftwerk
I’m my own Sisyphus
In syrupy flavors
And like a contemporary Horace, he realizes the time for enjoyment of the passing hour. "a transparent/Afternoon when/ Linguists drop/Like duck phones// Tattoo blue/A grainy wonder".
The world of The Pink is not benign. The forces of disorder are forever present. Hooligans and bleak passages inhabit the work. An epistemological confusion is nearby as well. We are haunted continually by "veils to tear at."
Always here we do
Not know the water
"Launder in luxury construction cites/ Blight in cursive/ Salutation fascinate landmines": Are we given a carnation or a car nation?
However, Kyle urges us to realize that we are still "in the pink". How? Through a pinking. Though "pinking" can surely signal a call to trouble militarized and engendered borders(e.g. Code Pink), it also is a technical term describing a physical cleavage… pinking shears leave a zigzag pattern in cloth or paper instead of a straight edge. The message is this: Through the combination of a crisscrossed craft and a centered integrity, one can negotiate the disaster. Just take the first lines of the book:
There are plenty of rivers in the sea
But you can’t step on the same fish twice
The original versions of the aphorisms seem contradictory. There is hope in change (plenty of fish in the sea). Expect nothing but change (can’t step in the same river twice). Through Kyle’s "pinking" we are able to both weave hope out of nothing and nothing out of hope. In this way, "In wobbly locomotion/ A dull ache recedes".
THE PINK by Kyle Schlesinger.Chicago: Kenning Edition, 2006. 24 Pages.
The Pink, in both form and theme, shows a work that, in the words of George Oppen, "shows confidence in itself and its materials." Thanks to Kyle, we are gratefully taken into this confidence.
Pat Clifford is the author of several chapbooks including A story by fair: Rules for Radicals (2006) and Ring of Honor (2007), chaturangik/SQUARES(with Aryanil Mukherjee, forthcoming). His poetry and prose have appeared in Boog City, Hundreds, Streetvibes, Black Robert, Jacket, Helix, Sunday Indian and is forthcoming in CyPress Magazine and journey90s. A five-minute version of Asylum was performed at the Naropa Summer Writing Program in 2007. An independent lit-scholar, Pat has read in the SUNY, Buffalo, Bangla Academy in Kolkata, India and in workshops in San Francisco and Kolkata. His poetry has been translated into Bengali. Pat is the coordinator of a homeless shelter in Cincinnati, Ohio.