Last year, I showed up at a meeting of the Atlanta Poets Group, a collective of radically experimental lexiconic tricksters. Poet Randy Prunty approached me with a page of text, one with no line breaks or capitals and scarce punctuation. He asked me if I would read the poem -- "delusiveness continues" -- to the group. I first thought he was shy, but no, turns out he wanted to hear how I and two other readers would interpret his words and didn't want to privilege the rhythms and intonations he would have read into his block of text.
"twisting junctions dazzle the propeller fantasies," I read. "i have no idea what that means and I don't want to know if you do unless it means you'll be my analogue one perception at a time."
Prunty's new chapbook, delusiveness, collects the brain-bending series in the latest round of releases from 3rdness, an indie imprint of John Lowther, co-founder of APG. (Also recently released: essential core by Dana Lisa Petersen; SIT OWN DERN. STEE A HWHYLE. by the late Michelle Reeves; and Gatsby by Alex Rawls.)
The imprint's name refers to a concept articulated by pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, a tripartite scheme of provisional truths. "Thirdness is relational, is always mediated by language or symbol, systems or sign systems," says Lowther. The name also references psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's taxonomy of the psychic structure into the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. 3rdness is for poets of the self-consciously symbolic, poets who reject any pretensions of writing "the Truth."
Despite their heady manifesto, the poets published by 3rdness are often playful and, in their repudiation of conventional forms, sometimes happen upon surprising serendipities. If you can put aside expectations built on sonnets and haikus, these poems hold deep delights.
Just One Book, a nonprofit organization, is collecting book donations to replenish the classrooms and libraries of Gulf Coast schools destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A list of needed books, by grade level, is available on the organization's website. Just One Book, 481 Jasmine Ridge Road, Wetumpka, Ala., 36093. 334-567-2951. www.justonebook.net.