Forget Nostalgia

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Krill, Jon Jerome
Portland State University Library
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When put to the question, "What are your poetics?" I usually answer that I tend toward lyrical and narrative surrealism. Most of the poems in this thesis collection have discernible storylines, through-lines, or at least some sense of "aboutness." Across these poems, however, I've experimented with various poetic tools in an attempt to refract experience rather than entirely abstract it. For example, by varying identities and locations of the speaker, many of these poems achieve a surrealist sense while remaining within lyrical or narrative spaces. Some poems have multiple speakers, and speakers of undefined origin, which further defamiliarizes their language. Another tool I work with is address: to the reader in some poems, between "actors" in other poems, or addresses from speakers to agencies or forces that seem to reside beyond the poem. In this sense, much of this work is also performative. Variations in diction, within and across poems, add to both the surreal and performative qualities of the collection. Overall, I think these poems reflect how abruptly and incongruously we encounter language and meaning in the cacophony daily life . . . and amid the continuous stream of internal dialog that responds, looping around in our fractured minds.While this is by no means a concept or themed book, I do sense mental illness as my co-author for much of it. The often isolating, marginalizing affects of depression have been an ever-present lens through which I've perceived and reacted to life. Anxiety disorder, another longtime co-author, may well be the force behind a jumpy tension in many poems. Perhaps anxiety is the impulse that drove me to explore variations of form in this manuscript. It has been an exercise in shapeshifting, an often obsessive practice of reworking poems in different structural arrangements, releasing and remaking meaning along the way. Struggling with these existential/personal dynamics may also have inspired those of my poems you might call "political" or "socio-cultural." Injustices and absurdities of the outer world resonate with those of the inner: are both cause and subject of my personal problematics. Forget Nostalgia, then, is a command and prayer for both inner and outer worlds. To live forward by rejecting unnecessary regret--along with dangerous, regressive propaganda about how good everything was in "the good old days." (Compare at "Make America Great Again.")