Thursday, January 19, 2012

Microreview: On Charles Jensen's "The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture"

Almost feeling like a game of Tetris, there’s a lot of fun in watching Charles Jensen shift and slide the sounds and meanings of words in his new chapbook, The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture. With suaveness, Jensen manages to create puzzles through prose poems that wind up feeling as solved as an aphorism and as open-ended as a sweet riddle.

One of his best, “Reaganomics,” begins: “The color-coding trends toward the blue collar.” It ends with bleak comedy: “Dollars trade hands. Those young boys take one for America. It’s a chaos theory: a butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing; a moving car blowjob goes suddenly, horribly wrong.” Indebted to Stephen Dunn’s Riffs & Reciprocities: Prose Pairs and James Richardson’s Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten Second Essays, Jensen refuses those authors’ flat diction which always verge on sounding like a USA Today article.

Here’s where “Frenemies” begins: “Tragedy makes the shape of an O with his mouth and sooner or later, you know some teenage boy thinks, Round peg, round hole. Here’s where the same poem ends up: “...everybody loves a loose Tragedy, but comedy doesn’t get near enough play. The difference between Hamlet and Hambone.” Serio-comic, Jensen’s chapbook reveal a great aptitude for the making of worthy prose poetic games.

Charles Jensen's The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture through MiPOesias.


  1. In both these microreviews, you quote hella long sentences. What's up with the long sentence? I kind of like it but they do seem a little prosaic and didactic. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing but is odd.

  2. nice article...

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