The Dictionary of Poetry Blurb Terms


Kenny Brechner - August 6, 2015

baf_02599We booksellers assume ourselves to be fluent in the language of blurbs. This is hubris. The fragility of our blurb command in particular, and our sanity in general, become apparent when we have occasion to stray beyond the fields we know and enter those remarkable meadows where poetry blurbs are found.

Poetry blurbs are clearly a language of their own. To the untuned reader, their purpose appears to be overshadowing the poetry collection they are reviewing with abstruse but athletic hyperbole. This can hardly be the case, of course, and only accentuates the layman’s lack of understanding in this uniquely cultivated world.

For example, in preparing materials for a poetry reading, I recently encountered the following sentence. “Book of thisness, book of withness, book of now.” I had no idea what any of those terms meant, and, not wanting to deprive myself of the potent pleasures which surely attend becoming fluent in poetry blurbs, I pondered on a means for achieving enlightenment that wouldn’t involve actually engaging in poetry.

The answer was obvious. There needs to be a Dictionary of Poetry Blurb Terms. Rather than leave this important project to chance, I decided to get working on it, and to solicit your help. Below are listed some terms, a few of which have potential definitions.  Please help the cause by either providing definitions where they are lacking, improving upon the sample definitions, or providing other terms along with definitions.

SAMPLE TERMS AND DEFINITIONS

Withness: A state of mutual adoration between poet and blurber.

Thisness: The temperature at which self-congratulation coagulates into a solid.

The tautology that contains knowledge: A different tautology than the one currently being employed.

This is a brilliant, un-erasable book: The poems give you nightmares from which there is no awakening.

Sudden reserves of stillness and contemplation: The poems run out of gas.

The poems both sense and want to, enacting a rigorous aesthetic engagement that never quite achieves synthesis, instead posing writing itself as dialogic longing: These poems will kick your ass if you try and understand them.

Contrapuntal speed and delay: Has way better instances of speed and delay than other poems.

If there is justice, the future will look back on this book as a major event: The world is unfair.

It’s a book about seeking to find the forms in which to think the thoughts necessary to survival, then about seeking to find the forms necessary to survive survival and survival’s requisite thoughts: It’s an unauthorized sequel to Hatchet

TERMS IN NEED OF DEFINITION

syntactical and almost kaleidoscopic subversion of univocal emotion:

These poems invite the reader to sit awhile in thwarted desire and fulfilled desire:

security of sources and formal promiscuity:

The most important book published this year:

iridescent contacts:

eruptive grammars:

enjambed verses and impacted prose:

lyric prose about the conditions that make literature almost impossible:

spittle-flecked micro-narratives:

clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy:

Please post your contributions below.

16 thoughts on “The Dictionary of Poetry Blurb Terms

  1. Marlene Wilson

    eruptive grammars: Beware – projectile enunciations!
    clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy: My dog chewed up my trade copy.

    Reply
  2. Kenny Brechner Post author

    enjambed verses and impacted prose: These poems are found items lifted from Dentist office waiting room magazines.

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth

    syntactical and almost kaleidoscopic subversion of univocal emotion: The poet employs every word in the English language trying to say something new about love.

    eruptive grammars: a medley of styles thrown together in an attempt to sound experimental

    enjambed verses and impacted prose: Something a little Dulcolax might help.

    (P.S. Kenny, I think your definition of Thisness is the most hilarious thing I’ve read in a long time. Thisness: The temperature at which self-congratulation coagulates into a solid. Brilliant!)

    Reply
    1. Kenny Brechner Post author

      Don’t think I missed your diabolical attempt to lure me into ironic thisness Elizabeth.

      Reply
  4. Sam Oppenheim

    eruptive grammars: Grammatical rules that have been brewing below the lithosphere, until it explodes out of volcanoes like Mount Ellipses.

    Reply
  5. Carol B. Chittenden

    These poems invite the reader to sit awhile in thwarted desire and fulfilled desire:

    Better to bring the clean laundry in off the line and fold it.
    ………………….
    security of sources and formal promiscuity:

    Possibly Italian, per Elena Ferrante
    …………………
    The most important book published this year

    Harper Lee just found ANOTHER manuscript
    …………………
    spittle-flecked micro-narratives:

    Wait a minute — this wine has been opened and messed with!

    Reply
    1. Catherine Balkin

      Here’s my own personal take on these:

      syntactical and almost kaleidoscopic subversion of univocal emotion:

      Having complex patterns, these poems are combined in the same order as they would be if they were separate words and will overcome any unambiguous feelings you may experience.
      …………………

      These poems invite the reader to sit awhile in thwarted desire and fulfilled desire:

      Please do read these love poems, some sad and sexy, some happy and sexy.
      …………………

      security of sources and formal promiscuity:

      The poetic version of cleaned up porn.
      …………………

      The most important book published this year:

      This book will stay in print for almost an entire season.
      …………………

      iridescent contacts:

      Colorfully colorful in several rather touching ways.
      …………………

      eruptive grammars:

      Run-on sentences that will make your mind explode.
      …………………

      enjambed verses and impacted prose:

      Poems with and without meter that both end abruptly partway into a sentence and contain words that collide with each other and will have an impact on the reader, even though the reader won’t understand a single word.
      …………………

      lyric prose about the conditions that make literature almost impossible:

      Emotional prose about the kind of plights that will make you never want to read a book again.
      …………………

      spittle-flecked micro-narratives:

      All the words in these extremely short poems start with p and will make you spit when you try to recite them.
      …………………

      clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy:

      Shockingly profane and bitchy and yet antiseptic to the point of blandness.

      Despite my interpretations, I swear I am NOT jaded.

      Reply
  6. Karin

    enjambed verses and impacted prose: constipated verbiage

    clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth and very doggy: like bad beer through an old sock.

    Reply
  7. Reid Brechner

    Clean as a whistle yet with a shockingly foul mouth, and very doggy: Poems by sailors.

    Spittle-flecked micro narratives: Pavlovian prose.

    Security of sources and formal promiscuity: This poem has nothing to hide from anyone and everything to hide from itself.

    Nothing to hide from anyone and everything to hide from itself: This poem is inconsistent.

    Reply

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