I found “The Sienese Shredder” to be a strange accumulation of essays on life and art, artwork, poetry and prose that investigates (and, in my opinion, pushes the boundaries of) what justifies poetry as such. The bizarre text definitely provides an interesting, enjoyable read, but I feel that the authors sometimes take their exploration of the ridiculous a bit too intensely. For example, Jess’s “Oesap’s Faebles” seemingly random capitalizations and peculiar, multi-directional storyline seemed to subtract from the overall piece, rather than add the surreal nonsensicality which seemed to be the goal. This theme of absurdity to the point of pure silliness reflects a few times throughout the text, although the overall impression portrayed is one of strange yet admirable works.
My favorite piece (besides, of course, our dear Carbo’s :P), is Ron Padgett’s “The Absolutely Huge and Incredible Injustice in the World,” a nouveau work humorously outlining the irony of the unjust and inescapable disposition of mankind. He juxtaposes genuine inquiries and proclamations of human nature, such as “What makes us so mean?,” “It is hard not to be appalled by existence,” and “Life is so awful!” with amusing images of gorillas, hippos, and other oddities, overly dramatic ejaculations, and arbitrary tangents. In doing so, Padgett quite effectively lends a sense of outlandish humor to what could have been a drearily serious work.
Another choice example is, in my opinion, Harry Mathews’s “Romantic Poem,” which, barring the title, would not leave any notion of romantics. I enjoy how the title adds a new dimension to the poem and forces the reader to search for hidden meanings between lines.
All that said, I totally want to kidnap the puppy pictured on the postcard on page 144. How cute can you get? :)