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pickles and Jams by cris cheek Now Available!

In Pickles & Jams, cris cheek exposes the very membranes that lie between the sensed-real of the culturally dominant and the barely-sensed hyper-real of the culturally emergent. His poetics (initially spawned and tested in Briton) isn’t of an “epiphany” variety, but rather is borne of a sabre-ready constructivist process, whereby the jettisoning of American Capitalist values is at a premium. And though History’s objects (“nation”, “family”, “self-hood”, “city”, “work-world”) no longer have the capture energy they once did, they are still malignant, and push us around. It is these ghosted objects/identities that cheek takes aim at. Acutely sensible to the post-occupy dilemma of “value the crash / crash the value,” his aesthetic tactics intend on having us both view and act on the spectacle from within. cheek's ever-increasing readership will once again be delighted to take much needed cultural cues from the most significant Anglo-American poet of our time.

—Rodrigo Toscano

The flarfy titles of these lush and brazen poems belie the intensity of their love and outrage, their puns tart and savory, acidic and sweet, and the preserving properties of poesie. The minor obstructions and dilemmas of these “pickles” and “jams” contribute to the texture of life in a neoliberal (though rapidly fascistifying) world, so much so that were life easier, “were you to get just what you wanted every time you read me/ as a bolt of white lightning striking a muddy brain repeatedly/… /
I would cry out please, I can’t stand it anymore, let me go.” cris cheek is one of my poetry heroes and he should be one of yours too.

—Maria Damon

Creative mishearings, extemporized speech, pattern/algorithm/procedure, typos (“Your typos / leak wisdom”), phonemic salad, technological fuckery… this is the stuff that cris’ work seems made of to me. Often he retains a certain syntax—a syntax of official “English,” and of past (official) English poets—deterritorializing it by bringing the arbitrariness of the phrase to a saturation point—and by this means breaking into “englishes.” Yet, when these poems stop playing they become deadly serious, arresting us with their melancholic romance and/or rants against racial capital and/or precise indictments of the (white male cis) liberal subject. Pickles & Jams offers a sustained and multi-modal demonstration of an anti-authoritarian language practice where the poet seeks “not a plain language but / a poetry advocating on behalf of resistance to external authority.” It extends cris’ ongoing investigation into and manifestation of a late-Antinomian tradition.

—Thom Donovan

How to taste impasse. Sniff (out) conundrum. Here is a myriad—cris cheek’s marble-mouthed, sardonic, homages to and parodies of pop and literary cultures. Pickles & Jams offers itself as a cornucopia of whimsy, satire, mimicry and, sandwiched between, moments of lyrical tenderness. Here then is a book of poems that track a human thinking more than planning, feeling more than plotting. Here are bursts of tactics (not strategies), wobbly selves running roughshod over British and American niceties (aesthetic, cultural, social, etc.), brandishing aphoristic wit (““As in framers of wonder but/ farmers of convention.”) and a Joycean delight in linguistic fidelity to experience (coat-tails flapping at the grubby hands of convention). In brief, no wrong notes need app here.

—Tyrone Williams

A Londoner in southwestern Ohio, poet, musician, performance artist cris cheek surveys 21st century life in the wake of Fukushima and Occupy. Channeling the buzz in the air, he stages a shimmering sequence of linguistic action. Pickles, as in difficulties. Jams likewise, but also music, a dense, sensual, wild-ass, shredding music. Burlesque humor of the dysfunctional body politic. Quick verbal combinations demonstrating subtle substitutions with a flick of the writ. Torque, twist, spin, mickey, body English. An antidote to normalization, colonialism, authority, exclusion, boredom. Check out these vibrant works and find out what’s really really real.

—Kit Robinson

The pickles are formal, riddles and riffs, the jams maybe cultural and political. Originally out of London cheek is now in his second decade in Ohio, but I hear his title as English. It refers to homegrown stanzas inventively shaped and occasionally rhymed, as if those clever origins had been run into the “designer chickens” of William Carlos Williams while Lewis Carroll caught the bus trying to escape the scene. cheek has always worked with the demotic and the found, with the surround sound of the everyday, so it’s no surprise that his new poems are more American than earlier work in their frames of reference. Indeed one poem wonders about the difference between framers and farmers, “at the convention.” Another appears to make passing reference to Descartes and then Bo Diddley in just a few lines. Dispersed subjectivities include those critical of what’s at hand and many others more tender or playful. The kind of memorable turns of phrase that experimental poetry too often avoids pass by pretty frequently: "beautiful lounge of the damned / in which i got the good peppermint.” I thought I had a handle on cheek’s practice as a performance writer and documentary poet given to expansive poems and sequences, but these little poems have left me upside down beside the fountain of post-post-objectivist lyric.

—Keith Tuma

cris cheek is a postpunk transatlantis maker and framer of playful marks with alphabetic language, with sound, with voice, with light and with the body

growing up in London is hard-wired through his circuitry:

early influences were with the Consortium of London Presses, working alongside Bob Cobbing and Bill Griffiths in the COLP printshop, and performing multi-voice pieces with PC Fencott, Lawrence Upton, and sometimes Jeremy Adler with jgjgjgjgjgjgjgjgjg (. . . as long as you can say it that’s our name)

with Marshall Reese, Kirby Malone, Patty Karl, Nora Ligorano, Chris Mason and others for the festival of disappearings arts in Baltimore

with Mary Prestidge, Kirstie Simson, Sue MacLennan, Philip Jeck, Jacky Lansley and Fergus Early at Chisenhale Dance Space in London’s east end, with book-maker poets Allen Fisher and Ulli Freer

with poet-theareticians Carla Harryman and Steve Benson

with soundart as John and Mary Outchan on Balsam Flex, with Philip Jeck and Sianed Jones, Ansuman Biswas, and Samia Malik as Slant, with Kirsten Lavers as tnwk (things not worth keeping)

with cloven

for the past dozen years cris has lived and worked in south-west ohio at miami (myaamia) university and lives in cincinnati

Book Information:

· Paperback: 114 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-273-0



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