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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: Sham City by Evan Harrison

Evan Harrison
Omnidawn Publishing, 2012. Poetry.
Review by Debrah Lechner

Sham City is a metropolis of backwards, upside-down and inside-out architecture and society. M. C. Escher would be perfectly at home living there. Funny and fierce, there is nothing false in Harrison's vision.

From “Cathedral”:

What else is a cathedral?
Vertical emphasis is an effective show of power; it makes people enjoy
            the idea of a god in space.
It's also a design for stacking all those families and quiet, banished
Sometimes when they go to the store they just buy toilet paper and a
            Suitcase of beer.

The light coming through a rose window is almost like a noise that
            resembles a phone conversation about a third party's
            imminent passing.

I am thinking of the Soviet-era apartments in Warsaw,
            of the volume inside and inside.

Harrison has a keen eye and muscular wit that translates through his deliriously strange and confrontive voice. From “Preview”:

The report, issued tomorrow, will gore free association and
stink of digging. The words demarcation, furthermore and course will
appear multiple times without gesturing towards notions of languish.
The report will continue to make me feel poorly about the way I
conduct my life, but some adults may go buy a magnet or regard gut,
spectral strains of words as gospel or serious business. We will
move deliberately in our mirrors as if filmed, as if the report were a script,
safe, lumbering in artificial recesses.

Hayden's Ferry Review published “Sham Life” and “Advice from a Head,” two poems included in this collection, in issue 48. Sham City is the winner of the 2011 Omnidawn Chapbook Contest, judged by Ben Lerner.

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