Published on Poetry New York (http://www2.evergreen.edu/poetryny)

as far as by Jen Hofer reviewed by Will Owen

Jen Hofer's 'as far as' was published by a+bend press, and costs five dollars. I know these things because they are printed on the translucent wax-paper cover that wraps around the purple card stock covered with the title cascading typewritten. These two opening pages are attached together by a saftey pin in the lower right corner, just above the author's name (on the wax paper). Behind the purple card stock is another translucent sheet failing to obscure the title page with a safety pin's silhouette silk screened on. This book caught my eye when I was sifting through books at the Unnameable, and as I sit here writing this in a thai restaurant in Greenpoint I'm realizing that I'm much more drawn to it than the paintings of flowers drawn by a talented elephant from KongKum.

I was also excited by the fact that Jen Hofer and a+bend press are complete unknowns to me, making very good books in small editions. 

There are five poems in 'as far as,' only one of which is lineated. The middle three are poems in series, all take the reader through a series of formal approaches.

The first piece 'escaped morning dove' is made up of three brose blockes unpunctuated but for parenthesis. The parenthetical statements don't fully fit into the sense of the previous piece, providing more of a misdirection or misexplication or correction, as though asking the reader to take both possibilities, thus 

mindful numeric so flusterful to remember that real tree hung with real apples in particular


(over) mindful (ever) numeric (yet) so flusterful to remember (a kind of door) that real tree (which is a kind of window) hung with real apples (glossy up yours) in particular (wonderful)

The second poem, 'short films' is made up of four prose poems in standard punctuation (except for the lack of capitalization) and syntax, though the sentences wind through quite a few commas, giving the impression of a very maximal gesture misdirecting its rhetoric through content. The discursive maze of content also suggests a kind of cinematic interest in forming the piece. The piece is coming out of a persistent 'we' that may or may not be absorptive spectators. It is also the poem that contains the book's title. Here's what it looks like:

lest you think untethered, dearest port city, we are tremendously thankful anxious violas. as far as the eye could see & not a single eye to see it. unrelentingly is the molten din of feverish incipient industry, industrious & secretive. meanwhile, we sleep amidst routine news, commingling in the what.

'tendency,' the third poem in the book, is dedicated to Kathy Acker, with the dates of her birth and death just below the dedication at the end of the poem. It's hard to say if the poem is an elegy or not. It certainly discovers. The sections of the poem are in non-syntactical chunks of language separated by caesura.  The chunks of language are also without punctuation, with the exception of occasional parentheticals. The parenthesis is an occasional gamepiece of the poem, as one of the sections, entitled '2 foxes,' appears 3 times in the poem with identical text, but different 'chunks' of language are in parenthesis. Here is the second appearance of the section:

2 foxes

never having seen a fox before    descent    being
next to   much less two  in light of the fire      assent
being past   the plaza (late)   to reach the coast
never having seen one  too late        and now
emanating      brilliant   and now    twice

'terraces,' the next piece, does seem standard in comparison, with every piece of punctuation seemingly in place again, though once you actually get into reading the piece, you realize that the punctuation is used to measure out movements of the eye and the line, a narration of the intake of consciousness, or drawing in visuals without concern for their spatial position. Each begins with an epistolary address 'dear ____' though the relationship between the addressee and the address is mysterious:

dear portrait: the beginning of something. or so, falsely. or some fabricated something. pouring rain and the tiredest hands and eyes. far too much to anything. a film or sheet. a pool in the shape of a guitar and a neon guitar-playing hotel sign and a wooden guitar and the smoky mountains in the shape of mountains and elvis all in mannequin white lobbying the black transsexual surely desk clerk outlined. thousands and thousands and thousands. those bigger birds across nashville and the yesterday sky brimming with tidings, color, askings, untidy is it all.

'as far as' finishes with 'our possible face,' the only lineated poem in the piece, and only partially, the poem ends with two large prose blocks. The poem seems very conscious of it's position at the end of the book, of lifting the reader out of reading, it begins with:

now amplifies the fog in
itinerant sway as flying
motive logic swells beneath

and ends with:

on the other side of that hill it's the end of the world, i believe. unless there's more

With the exception of Kathy Acker's name, there are no capital letters in 'as far as,' though the experience of the book is one of dealing with a sequence of techniques, perhaps discovery without accrual.
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