Months ago Ian Kahl sent me his book of poems anxiety is a rambling dagger and I have been reading it ever since. I find the poems a pleasure to read though there is so much pain in them. I like Ian Kahl’s use of italics and the strange combinations of abstract and concrete language.
I am sometimes stunned by sudden flashes of great clarity in Ian Kahl’s writing. I’ll be reading and really enjoying it, completely with the speaker, when suddenly everything comes together in a rich, super-real way. Here’s an example of two stanzas at the end of a poem that stand out to me.
even years later
after countless reinventions
the shape and size of the nest has been altered
but these wet sticks are still standing
and make a home within me
It’s the analysis of the nest that gets to me, and the mention of wet sticks. It’s perfect, a perfect ending. Other times it will be a single line that astounds me, like this one.
ultimately, I found nothing outside myself but levers
It’s strange and intriguing. I’m surprised by the way reality is imagined, and I’m delighted by the speaker’s mind. “Straightforward yet very confusing” I wrote in the margin on page 32 of anxiety is a rambling dagger, and by confusing I don’t mean to criticize–the confusion is enjoyable.
Ian Kahl’s poems make me think things I’ve never thought before. And for this I love them.