"...there is so little I can realistically explain without simply saying: read this book. I might only, as a reserve, say what this book is not: Kings of the F**king Sea is not a standard poetry collection. Kings of the F**king Sea is not predictable poetry on any level. And Kings of the F**king Sea is not ever what you expect it to be even when you are starting to expect from it. Dan Boehl has done here what you must sail upon. Buying this book is building a boat."
"Amidst the utter absurdity (which, I suppose one should anticipate, given the title) there are moments of great poignancy, as promised in the book’s epigraph from Whitman, which bears repeating, especially these days:
I observe the famine at sea, I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d to
preserve the lives of the rest.
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the
poor and upon negroes, and the like.
All these—all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
With this in mind, Boehl has concentrated his imaginative efforts upon the lines between life and art, and between war and life. He writes, in “(Shipwright) European Oils”: “He went off to war while the older ones, the alcoholics in khaki pants, dripped paint all over the place, worried about the redness of red and blackness of black.”
In lines such as these, one senses guilt, the kind of guilt Bataille describes as inherent to the artistic endeavor. That is, there is something that needs to be done, and meanwhile, the writer writes, the artist makes art. Sees, hears, and is silent, except for his useless words."
"Time is the great enemy. On the micro scale it moves too slowly, on the macro scale it moves too fast. Days are long, years are short. I don't see how anyone can be alive and aware and not obsess about time, all the time. Who said all poems are about death? All poems are also about time, since death is ultimately about time." -Elisa Gabbert
"Boehl’s work is filled with high and low cultural references. Its reoccurring cast of characters including artists, poets, merchants, sailors, and soldiers are all in search of a false freedom to be found on the open sea. From Dr. Mengele to Jack Spicer and Walt Whitman. From Rothko and Motherwell to David Bowie, Spiderman and The Green Goblin. KINGS OF THE F**KING SEA is a collection of word and image that is beautifully tragic, wrenchingly heart breaking, occasionally humorous and always intelligent. And as the poem (Minstrel) If I had a Boat and the press release state, ‘“The world invents, the sea discloses, and irony isn’t a necessary tool for successful men.” On the sea, as in art, some make it and others die nameless, destitute of love, forgotten.’"
"Tonelli asks the reader to immerse themselves in a work so candid and open that it serves as a “self that touches all edges…that fills the four corners of night.” But not only does this apply to Tonelli’s Gesamtkuntswerk, but also to the metaphor of trees he remains loyal to. It appears that such a common and simple object as a tree must be a trick of some sort, but when pushed further we see it for what it is, the object behind the idea. The ideas presented in the four sections that make up The Trees Around differ in content, form, and message.
"The Trees Around is definitely one of the gems of 2010."
"Pinsky who? ELISA GABBERT is our kind of poet. "Take me to the library; I'm in the mood to get murdered," she writes in a poem called "BLGPM W/ DTHWSH" in her first collection, The French Exit. Gabbert — whom Bookslut has called the Zoe Saldana of letters --..."
"Reader beware. Even with such emotional and human gestures, The French Exit is no catchy-hooks-got-you-on-the-first-listen sort of book. It intrigues and hides and even frustrates the first time through, enough so that you find yourself wanting another listen, and then another, and as the full complexity of what is happening unfolds, quantum like, you realize you’re holding a dazzling book that richly rewards those willing to sound and puzzle it out."
"Exquisitely pictorial ( . . . “confusing feeling with seeming, I think./ And nothing, and suffering, with fog”), post-historical, and combative (“I can defenestrate anything/ except for the window”), these poems and their occasionally patterned nature (section three being composed of “blogpoems” of witty force and technoculture-saturated play) are as original as anything being written today. The first stanza of “Blogpoem After Walter Benjamin”: “Every time you reproduce a piece of art/ you remove some of its aura and that’s why/ your mix tape didn’t impress me much,/ it was so fucking aura-less . . . ”
"Gabbert has a dizzying number of recommendations for reality, and they range from a Richter scale of quaintness for Amsterdam (“Blogpoem the Litany”), a T-shirt’s alarming imperative of HAVE A KNIFE DAY (“Poem with Negation”), and the proper “nefarious angles” at which pictures should be hung (“Poem with a Superpower”)."
After reading the book once through with no pen in hand, no notes, no nothing, I tried to just think for a moment and get a sense of my sense of the book. The best word I could find to describe the feeling the book left me with was "open." I think this sense of openness is more than simply a result of the final poem of the collection being entitled "Bridge." The sense of openness comes from the way these poems reveal themselves to me, the way they don't ask me to look through them, but to look directly at them.
As I reread the book, taking some notes along the way, this sense of openness became more and more apparent. But what exactly do I mean by "open"? Let me try to clarify my sense of the collection by responding (uninvited) to Joe Hall's musings over on HTML Giant. ..."