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Mark Yakich, The Making of Collateral Beauty, Tupelo Press, 2006

[Review Guidelines]

I tire rapidly as I write this thanks to a shot of Nyquil and off-brand Benadryl, and as such, I feel that Mark Yakich's poems in his new chapbook The Making of Collateral Beauty are written here for me right now, in this hypnagogic state somewhere between the ebb of waking life and sleep, that this is the perfect state to read these things which do not act quite like independent poems (each poem herein shares a title with his first book, Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross) but not quite as companions either. This is both corollary and new growth. This set enriches the other set, and forms a sort of weird matrix superset behind and on top of the former volume, sort of like a mythology that pokes fun at the readerly response that asks for a poem to explicate itself, or to offer up the moment that brought the poem into being. In this way, it acts as a kind of interrogation of the sort of note this publication asks its writers to provide.
      Every poem in this collection asymptotically approaches prose (unlike Unrelated, which is mostly lineated poems with a few prosier bits). And each forms a link with the poems in the earlier book (though not all the poems in Unrelated get the Making of... treatment, meaning that there isn't a one-to-one correspondence between the two books, title-wise), sometimes referencing or riffing on one of the original lines or images, and at other times playing with the idea of what poems are, what writers are and do.
      The feeling one gets after finishing these new poems is a sort of daze, surrounded by saxophones and circling stars. Each suggests a narrative, an extra mythology to add onto the original poems, but each is a bit off—spliced together, collage style, or featuring some pretty big rhetorical jumps that touch at times on the edge of something approaching dada. The poems are most effective when the gaps they elide are complete surprises, as if each leap is the solution to a rhetorical problem that didn't exist before the poem did. As such: they are totally fun. They do amaze—the effect they have when the last image or line juts out into the void is reminiscent, at times, of Joe Wenderoth's Letters to Wendys.
      As a whole the poems accrue to become a weirdo self-mythology, continued somewhat in the other packaging of the book (the impish author photo on the back, the author bio that perforates the edge of credibility and reads as an arch extension of the real Mark Yakich, the real Mark Yakich as reduced to bio form, and the new bio is in fact an extension of the bio we see in Unrelated ), and, as such, the book does the trick (that we hope it will) well. So: wallow. Swallow. Hook and all. Buy the book, either for the work it accomplishes by itself or for the dimension it adds to Yakich's first book that you should already know, but in the case you don't, take this as a chance to let them both caress your cheek. [AM]