'Recalculating' surprises at every turn,
April 21, 2013
I believe one of the many qualities of a poet is a desire to keep knocking down the fences, to keep expanding the definition of poetry by writing more imaginative forms and by refreshing the content of poetry since time immemorial. This is one of the key reasons I like Charles Bernstein as a poet. No, I don't like everything he writes, but I sure like the way he writes it. In 'Recalculating' he again unsettles any set ideas I have about what is a 'good' poem or what is a 'bad' poem, so much so that I no longer judge. Isn't that refreshing! There are wonderful rich reviews about this work all over the Net: my main delight in this collection is that again it wasn't what I was expecting. And yet that was exactly what I was hoping for. Frivolous forms with serious thought behind them; a cartoon page; thoughts on his daughter's passing ... These are the main ingredients, but I wouldn't separate this work (except its beautiful cover) from his previous work. It is an extension, a multi-streamed extension which will fall into place with all his other wor4ks to come when they too have settled.
If you have a philosophical mind that likes to play as well as sing, maybe scat singing more than rap, then read Bernstein and 'recalculate' your poetic canon.