Friday, June 10, 2011

NO IDEAS BUT WITH WINGS: A review of Chris Toll's " The Disinformation Phase"

In his new full-length book of poetry, The Disinformation Phase (forthcoming this month from Publishing Genius), Chris Toll offers up a vision of poetic enlightment. Within a deceptively minimal set of syntactic maneuvers, Toll presents a rich and varied world of boundless danger and boundless wonder.

Many poems parody teaser-trailers, setting the scene for some cataclysmic event, ending just before we get there. The book is heavy on foreplay, which is all for the better. Toll earns every climax:

"and my God is you."

"There is an ache where my heart used to be."

"Be light."

Etc., etc.

Counter to the bulk of the last few decades of American poetry—noncommittal, objectivist, compulsively brainy—The Disinformation Phase is aesthetically certain (almost a manifesto, in fact), imaginative, and emotionally fearless. Even when employing classic post-modern devices, Toll remains an enchanted practitioner. For example, puns, too often the frustrated purpose of idle poetic hands, here act in the service of an ongoing, fruitful investigation of a secret spiritual language.

In some ways Toll has been writing the same poem for years. But don't confuse a focused artistic vision with the lack thereof. That's how most people missed the brilliance of the Ramones the first time around. The poems resemble each other because each is an incomplete incarnation of the same vast and intangible generative force. It's like the Tao Te Ching, except it's all lies. Of course, I don't quite mean that. In his poems Toll plays the part of the snake oil salesman, but in this case the snake oil works, and hidden in the performance of the con are many actual truths that range from the personal to the cosmic.

Disinformation Phase release party:

Saturday, June 25, 2011
8PM at the Metro Gallery
(1700 N Charles St, Baltimore)

Readings by
Chris Toll
Christine Ferrera
Megan Boyle

Music by
She Bites!
Jacob Panic

$10 (w/ book)

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