A boxed set of 52 individual cards, 5.25″ x 7.5″
These pieces extend and parody the dynamic artistic productions of high-modernism that began with Stephane Mallarme’s Un Coup De Des (A Throw of the Dice),continued with the words of the Italian and Russian Futurists, and reached its apogee in Ezra Pound’s Cantos (with its graphic ideograms), Wallace Stevens’ Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction,Louis Zukowsky’s “A”, and Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems. As individual cards, these poems can be shuffled into different sequences, extending even further their non-linear nature. Traditional narrative poetry is undermined by the work’s graphic intensity, and the spaces and syntactic gaps between images and statements offer the reader multiple layers of meaning, while at the same time, subverting the very notion of meaning itself. Thus, the reader is left to encounter the linguistic contradictions inherent in collage, cubist simultaneity, and multiple points of view. Lay the cards out on a table; spread them across the floor; piece them together like a puzzle: You’ll have an experience with words and images that will delight your linguistic aesthetic and tickle your compositional assumptions. The cards are also suitable for framing and make charming placemets.
Even those aware of Grapes’s protean leanings might be startled by the appearance of Lucky Finds. Grapes is up to something different, but just how different becomes wildly apparent with Lucky Finds. Rather than a bound book we get a box of cards, unbound, plastered over with ideograms, quotations, floating stanzas and “feeble-nodes” (née footnotes). Even if we are inclined to read them linearly, top-to-bottom and start to finish, Grapes makes this nigh impossible, and perhaps unnecessary: we must turn them over, upside-down and sideways, frequently, to follow their chaotic path. It’s fairly impossible to do justice to Lucky Find’s diversity, its sprawling and multiplicitous nature, in brief; similarly, in fact, to do so at length. Grapes is covering a tremendous amount of ground here, abstract and figurative, personal and philosophical, literary and historical — and it goes on with wit and flair, a loopy, urbane surrealism not unlike John Asbery’s collides with a large-hearted acceptance, a relishing of the ridiculous that seems wholly Grapes’ own. It is to Grapes’s immense credit, and our pleasure, that these moves do not seem half-digested; they seem, rather, the product of an original, omnivorous sensibility. It takes great courage to draw these disparate and too-long oppositional strands of American poetry, the intimate and the cerebral, confessional and philosophical, literary and historical, into alignment. Greater courage still—courage and tremendous skill—to do it, and at the same time not take oneself, or one’s work, too seriously; to begin, as so many poems this last half-century have, with a camera’s impersonality and wind up with pie in the face. We should be glad to see him working this fertile vein—this unexpected, exultant, unmistakably American one—as successfully as he does.
Matthew Spector, Poetry Flash
There is a supreme and eloquent strength in Grapes’s standing alone–it keeps him out of the various ‘schools of poetry.’ His poems are some of the best ever written.
Itabari Njeri, Los Angeles Times