29 September 2016

The Poems of B.J. Love

This article originally appeared as a posted titled "Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: B.J. Love" at Vouched Books on 06 June 2013.

6_Quick B.J. Love is a poet who authored the chapbook Michigander, the editor of the online audio journal Pretty LIT, co-host of the Seersucker reading series (with Erika Jo Brown), and teaches at Savannah State University. Additionally, he used to run Further Adventures Press, which released a number of terrific, handmade chapbooks between 2008 and 2011. Yes, Love is a bit of Renaissance Man when it comes to poetry.

Earlier this week, I read a pamphlet of collaborative poems he wrote with Friedrich Kerksieck (the brains behind Small Fires Press) titled Six Quick Sand Pits. The colophon for the collection reads:
These quicksand pits were written collaboratively by BJ Love & Friedrich Kerksieck. This booklet was printed for Parenthesis 23 in the blazing Memphis summer of 2012. It was printed with a Vandercook No. 4 on Somerset Book paper. Type is Gill Sans.
If the specifications don’t mean much to you, know this: just like everything Kerksieck prints and produces, it looks gorgeous. And the six sand pits within? They are wonderfully odd prose poems. Take, for instance, the opening pit:
Sand and Water wanted a baby. What beautiful coastline we could make, they’d say to each other just before having sex in the usual positions. When quick sand bubbled up nine months later, Sand and Water sank the disappointment deep below the Earth’s crust. I don’t want to say this is why we now have volcanoes, but I can’t say it’s not.
The other five pits read in a similar tone and style. I’m not sure exactly how one would get their hands on this short collection (in fact, I’m not entirely sure how I got my hands on this collection), but you can read more of Love and Kerksieck’s collaborative poems in their chapbook Fossil, which they released via the Dusie Kollektiv a couple years ago.

Last week, I received the new issue of Cant in the mail, which contains eight poems by Love. To this extent, they act as the centerpiece for the issue. Here is one of those poems, “Grammatical Benjamin,” in its entirety:
I feel like I should be making more
telephone calls. That I could be better
at talking if I committed to a more rigid
practice schedule and insisted on using
the English to Feelings dictionary we
bought that night we couldn’t think of
the word that meant half-priced sushi.

When I put my hand in your hand, this
it tells us, is what we mean: Something
really necessary appears to be happening. (17)
The rest of the poems follow a likeminded trajectory: texts composed in a conversational idiom that, thematically, read as somewhat oblique love poems. To read more poems by B.J. Love (as well as work Aaron Belz, Matt Hart, and a terrific interview with Laura Solomon) order a copy of Cant.

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