On the roofs of windowless malls and advertising conglomerates, Kent MacCarter is dancing. Shimmy, bebop, pogo, he’s climbing billboards to wall-flip up high over the parking lot, its asphalt vistas, naturalising heaps of disposable packaging, target markets heading to their cars under the power grid. He’s making a maelstrom up there, sucking it all in—real maraschinos, Donkey Kong, nuclear reactors, fibromyalgia, quietude, cup-a-soups. It’s ‘draping sparkle on the troposphere’. It’s giving the republic of letters its republic back. ‘& it’s a total fucking gas’.
Kent MacCarter is writing like no other poet. His post SF Renaissance and post-language new lyricism are all tussling with an Australian sense of edges. Transcultural and non-national, these poems rip through assumptions and leave us flabbergasted. A generative tension drives word deployment, with words making meaning, developing that ‘genuine strangeness’ that shifts poetic discourse into something differentiated, generative, essential. In MacCarter’s work, the ‘ordinary’ becomes strange and a lens through which we might re-see our certainties. There’s an accentual and cultural slippage grappling with the ‘new’ in interrogative ways that are beyond satirical—the poet inside and outside what is being critiqued, culpable and also stunned by what is seen. Inside, because he is a participant in the cultural debates and discussions of the modern, and outside because his language is so self-propelling that the poet follows in its wake, watching on. These critiques of commercial fetishisation and gender stereotyping/exploitation are politically and ethically driven challenges to us all, requiring us to question our own modes of reading. This is a riveting work—compulsive, committed and drop-jawed wondrous.
Publication date: May 2018
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