ForthcomingPublication Date: April 2017ISBN: 978-1-62557-973-7
This witty, ingenious book of sonnets casts the shadow of affection and the light of collaboration on a hallowed traditional form. There is a great deal to enjoy and even more to learn from the way Simone Muench and Dean Radar come sideways at the sonnet, using improvisation, found lines and sheer invention. They put old lines into conversation with new ones, and fresh approaches at angles to conventional usage. The result is subversion, disruption and delight.
The endurance of the sonnet sequence over the centuries is in no small measure due to a paradox: it is a form that revels both in its fluidity and in its structural exactitude. The sonnet sequence is also apt to engage us because it is typically an expression of solitary yearning, just like the blues. Petrarch longs for his unattainable Laura; Son House laments his dead beloved. In Suture, Simone Muench and Dean Rader turn this latter convention of the sonnet sequence on its head, transforming a mode that seems predicated on an essential loneliness into a collaborative effort, one that is rambunctious, wry, companionable, jittery; and, above all, emotionally capacious. Muench and Rader write with an elegant but mysterious synchronicity—like octet and sextet.
You can spend too much time, while reading collaborations, trying to figure out who wrote what, or worse—you can't help but see it, through the seams and stitchery. But these poems are smooth as can be. Muench and Rader, collaborating not just together but with the first lines of other poets, have created or found (who cares?) a beautifully singular voice that pushes back gently every time you pause to wonder "How was this made?" Very quickly you stop asking and find yourself halfway through this excellent book.