July by Kyle Harvey (Book Review)

July_Catalog3July (a poem by Kyle Harvey). 36pp. Lithic Press. Lithicpress.com

I love the way Kyle Harvey opens up July. He lists off dozens of poets (and also Zapruder) and at the end, calls it “an offering”. That it is. It’s an offering that doesn’t make sense when you first read it, but continue because you are intrigued.

One of my favorite parts of this book comes very early on. Kyle adds in a parenthetical aside to a line… with an unexpected and jarring juxtaposition. The theme of this book is a mythical place, or time, or mindset, called July. Each page gives us an impression of what July is (and is not)—adding up to an extended metaphor you can lose (and find) yourself in.

Here’s an example:

July is me

as much as

I am July

The other thing that really grabbed me about this poem was how it was laid out on the page. There are words hanging out by themselves, surrounded in white space… columns of words on either side of “and”… and other formulations to keep your eyes engaged. This is fitting for a writer like Mr. Harvey, who also works as a graphic designer.

And then there is this nugget of wisdom, which might be the key to the whole poem:

don’t ask me

what I mean

meaning

is the murder of process

I enjoyed the elliptical nature of this work. Harvey skirts around the idea of something, only occasionally striking at the heart. Ultimately, poets such as Kyle Harvey work with words like a painter with paint. The whole beast is the most important thing. Just let July wash over you. Let the understanding come later. (Josh Medsker)

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