Tuesday, May 22, 2007



Watchword by William Fuller
(Flood Editions, Chicago, 2006)

In Watchword William Fuller takes us along the edges of the rational, of the conscious, of the real in a moment of exploration through language.

I omit your words
blending together just now
ecstasy of my writings
in gardens copied out
at seedtime
along the edge of shadows. (12)

“The edge of shadows” is an appropriate phrase for this collection as a whole. Fuller likes to explore edges, the spaces where things change into other things. Even his language mimics this exploration, for he shifts language patterns quickly, changing often in one poem from the language of the business world (“A more broadly based plan emerged / from a substantial increase in pressure”[38]) to more “traditional” poetic language—we could easily label this something like neo-Romanticism—(“deeply hung with woods / and arrows, Eros, in this [burnished] bag / with a black-capped chickadee”[44]). These shifts in language patterns seem like explorations themselves, but they also suggest to the reader the ways that language is a social creation connected through many various uses that we often do not acknowledge in poetry. It’s this acknowledgement in his poetry that laces it with social commentary on how ideology is embedded into our language and on how our language is transforming in the modern world. Take, for example, these lines from “Riding North,” an excellent poem which takes up the theme of exploring consciousness:

quickly the ship—
stands against reverence for authority
because not intelligible
a repetition of the forms of doubt
a hunting scene with warplanes on the roof. (42)

Beyond social commentary and exploring edges, Fuller’s language has a quiet and controlled aspect to it. The language, even as it changes, always seems appropriate to the poems. Unlike the work of many poets, there are no unfinished pieces in the book, even if the exploration is left open. Fuller’s hand is precise, and that precision is necessary for his close look at language, of its shifts and changes, but even though at times dense, his work does not stray away from the lyrical:

                              what I
could not say when confronted
with observed facts—there was once
a time—or subsidence of the future—
when the rational was pain
and everything nested inside it
no easy thing, but I could adjust to that. (61)

Most of Flood Editions books are incredibly good, and this book is no exception. Fuller’s work is engaging on a deep level like only the great works are. Watchword is definitely one of the best books that I have come across lately and is one that should be on any reader’s shelf.


William Allegrezza teaches and writes from his base in Chicago.  His poems, articles, and reviews have been published in several countries, including the U.S., Holland, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and are available in many online journals. Also, he is the editor of moria, a journal dedicated to experimental poetry and poetics, and the editor-in-chief of Cracked Slab Books.  His e-books, chapbooks, and books include In the Weaver’s Valley, The Vicious Bunny Translations, Ishmael Among the Bushes, Covering Over, Temporal Nomads, Lingo, and Ladders in July.  His book Fragile Replacements is forthcoming in 2007 with Meritage Press.


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