Monday, December 16, 2013

Das Gedichtete by Patrick James Dunagan

There’s a wonderful sustained resonance that rings throughout Das Gedichtete, the new chapbbook by Patrick Dunagan.  Whether you hear it with your ears or in some labyrinthine hallway of the mind, it’s like a tuning fork that was struck on the concrete floor of a house of mirrors a hundred years ago, or maybe just a minute ago, but it continues to hum, dialed in to a frequency that causes bubbles to pop in a dream, which describes a presence I think these poems claim. 

I took the assemblage of these lyrics to be both a meditation and an improvisation upon the essays in Adorno’s Night Music, which Dunagan cites as an inspiration, if not a source, or launching pad, for these hauntingly beautiful songs –

Objects in transformation
beloved images
depicted in mental form
evoke memory of Something
no more real
than the scars embedded
upon them
                        (page 6)

There’s no escaping the fact that we are eternally “eavesdropping” on the ventriloquist at work in this artfully composed collage of largely untitled verses.  Dunagan is adept at not only throwing his voice, but at strumming the language.  He is taking a philosophical vocabulary, monotone and appallingly logical, and is tickling out a melody.  This can at first seem merely a poetic exercise, later maybe a bit like hotdogging, but at its core Das Gedichtete is a finely crafted sequence of events that “Go beyond meaning”.  As good a definition of “The Poems” as any.

born into this
eternal delight
how suddenly
it lasts
            (page 18)

Das Gedichtete is published by Ugly Duckling Presse in an elegant chapbook format and only costs $10.