The Poetry of Joseph Zaccardi







Joseph Zaccardi's review of American Fractal by Timothy Green

American Fractal by Timothy Green, Red Hen Press, 2009, 102 pages, softcover.


American Fractal, Timothy Green’s first full collection, begins with “The Body,” a poems that lifts (moves) off the page with, “in the dream I wake to a poem about trains”. The poet’s body in a movable space who wakens within the dream in an unmovable space to first “consider the light / switch consider the electric blanket warmth” and he finds a “window which is no longer a window but a box full of / moonlight”. There is throughout this collection a dreamlike insistence on reality, the body of the poet as receptor and transmitter of images. This is not so much imagination as it is a discovery; “all language is pictographic,” he writes in “Some Proof.” One can almost hear the click of those old silent black and white moving pictures of the 1920s and 1930s ─ the train on its journey transforming from one poem to the next. What follows is a series of interlocking scenarios. From “Fifty-Hour Online Gaming Binge Proves Fatal” which concludes with this line, “One finds a pearl, another just a shell” to “The Memory of Water,” that surprises with this line, “There is so / little purity left in the world.” And on and on we join the poet on this ride, to various platforms, to various train stops. The title poem, “American Fractal,” begins with, “two mirrors face each other” and goes on to “& the mirror into mirror into mirror / that silver- / backed glass” concluding in the penultimate and last line with, “like a leap into no faith letting go that smallest star / that grain of sand that simplest & finest point of light”. Truly these poems are American, in there most undefinable meaning of that word, and Fractal, in that they are “a fragmented geometric shape that can split into parts, a reduced size of the whole, a property called self-similarity.” I am captivated by Timothy Green’s poetry, as I think many readers will be also. This is poetry for the 21st century, fractal and American; perhaps the start of a poetic movement to be called Fractal Poetry. Perhaps this is what is to come.

Timothy Green was born in Rochester, New York, in 1980. He worked in an mRNA research lab, and as a group home counselor for mentally ill adults, before moving west to serve as editor of the poetry journal RATTLE. His poems have appeared in many journals, including The Connecticut Review, The Florida Review, Fugue, Mid-American Review, and Nimrod International Journal. Green has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and is winner of the 2006 Phi Kappa Phi award from the University of Southern California. He lives with his wife, the poet Megan O’Reilly. American Fractal is his first book-length collection.

From Marin Poetry Center Newsletter, 2009

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