Black Valentine by David Abel
This lovely addition to Chax Press' line of chapbooks features Portland poet David Abel's elegiac sequence on love and grief. Written in New York following the 1988 death of Robert Duncan but published in 2006, Abel's poem takes as its point of departure a line from Christopher Marlowe, who writes: “Black is the beauty of the brightest day.” From this ambiguous, mournful line, Abel fashions a beautifully spare set of poems that encompass and intertwine concerns both philosophical and quotidian, displaying both sadness and acceptance in the face of death.
Float, by David Abel
“This stunning, wry collection is a tonic, triggering memory and the knowledge that we all enter poems in medias res—from anywhere. Rhythmic fragments or grand paragraphs, FLOAT becomes its own mixing board. At times you hear it almost disappear, then reappear as ‘total sound.’ In a long poem titled ‘Times of Day,’ one vertical, vital string, the words ‘Zoo / Cage / Jazz’ track to John Cage because of interventions earlier in the book, a startling elegy within and without. Cooked or raw, from the title to the end notes, possibilities abound. Alluring, captivating, it’s a must-read!”—Norma Cole