The World in Place of Itself

I recently read this book and its excellence deserves a mention here on my blog. I’ll review it in layman’s terms that are easy to understand and not fanciful and gaudy like those pieces you see in the New York Times.

Cover: The World in Plcae of Itself

Cover, "The World in Place of Itself" (2007)

There is a certain feel of poetic enlightenment in this 65-page premiere by Bill Rasmovicz. Rasmovicz’s work has previously appeared in publications such as the Mid American Review, Gulf Coast, and The Cafe Review, among others, wraps itself together into a coherent a moving way in The World in Place of Itself. Organized into five chapters, his poems weave a story contemplative of daily life and curiosities among his lucid imagery, such as the recurring progression of an amorphous poem called “Abberations,” found at least once in every section.

More recurring than the instance of abberations, though, are the patterns in his images that give the reader a hint either to the nature of the speaker or the nature of the world. Crows and blackbirds appear in almost every other poem, calling at or watching the speaker, or lingering in a way that’s more familiar and comfortable than looming. No “quoth the raven” to be found here.

Rasmovicz also proves that he has an extensive and incredible vocabulary, but it’s clear that he doesn’t write in such a complex way just for show. I found myself pausing and thinking about his word choice often, but realizing that he was being as playful and introspective as the crows. He uses words in ways that the reader might not readily expect. It is this quality that gives life to everything. The way that his words jump around follows the way that meaning can jump around. To Rasmovicz, an accordian “prophesizes,”  human lungs are “evaporating” and late at night the stars can drool their light. Most profoundly, though, in his winding way he asks us to truly wonder  “What tethers us to consciousness?” This thought can be ultimately profound and thought provoking but a little bit scary, too.

When I began reading it was difficult to stop. There is a very high re-read value for this book and I expect that I’ll be keeping it close for awhile, referencing its poetic wisdom. Now that he’s told me I am my own “dispossessed muse” and commanded “pretend you are more humble than you are. / Pretend you are a god, that words / don’t matter, / that they are everything” I suspect I’ll be writing a whole lot more for awhile to come.

To learn more about the poet Bill Rasmovicz or the fantastic cooperative press  it was published by, visit the following link. Enjoy!

Bill Rasmovicz, The World in Place of Itself, Alice James Books 


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