Wednesday, January 18, 2017



America’s Tin by Joel Chace
(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, 2017)

Interestingly (well, interestingly to me), I had to turn off Neil Young’s “Live At Massey Hall 1971” to which I’d begun to listen as I started to read Joel Chace’s America’s Tin. Young’s first song “On The Way Home” was mellifluously full-bodied, which is to say, it jarred with my read as I immediately looked at Chace’s title and mentally conjured “tin ear.”

So I read through Chace’s chapbook silently, and the silence helped; silence helped for meditating on what the poems offer: hints. Chace doesn’t have that tin ear, but there is something tin-ny in what he’s addressing about “America’s tin.” I mean “tin-ny” in not being fully realized, e.g.

oversight bunker  --
the rest of us will wait here  --
his irony zone
—from “a rolling abyss”

seduction contract  --
which one of them had done that?  --
oh, oh, oh, hell no
—from “liquid rosaries”

Notwithstanding the opaqueness of these haiku, what’s clearly discernible is a distress. It’s a distress that thins. Perhaps, akin to something that thins resolves into something like tin which I view as a thin, thus fragile or unreliable, metal. Am I making too much of this t(h)in concept? Perhaps. At times, metaphors logically fail.

Or perhaps not. I think that (in addition to obvious protests) there’s a general sense about of dissatisfaction or uneasiness (and that I fumble to articulate what I’m talking about says something, too) as regards politics—and Chace’s chap is the second in publisher Moria Books’-described “politically-oriented” series, Locofo Chaps (full disclosure: I wrote its first chap). Chace’s haiku don’t open up and resonate. They seem almost to manifest futility with many tercets closing down on themselves—

hard right cross, bam! down!  --
high wire didn’t work today  --
aligned with himself
—from “America’s tin”

Given the current state of U.S. affairs—the political transition period of January (when this chap was released), the uncertainty of a new presidential administration, a widespread worry and dissatisfaction among the electorate (even those whose candidate will enter the White House given how so many were dissatisfied with their presidential choices), among others—Chace seems to have captured a public mood more widespread than the in-your-face protests. That’s an accomplishment for his minimalist art when, as he notes in “liquid rosaries”—

all answers aren’t five  --
all answers are not seven  --
all answers aren’t five

We agree with the above. But noting what something is not is not the same as saying what an answer is. But we both suspect and empathize with this disquiet, this uneasiness. For it is very much political. And lives are at stake.


Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor (the exception would be books that focus on other poets as well).  She is pleased, though, to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her work: AMNESIA: Somebody's Memoir was recently reviewed by two Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewers: by Kevin Killian and by Grady HarpShe released three books and two chaps in 2016, and is scheduled to release at least that similar number in 2017. More info at

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