49th Shelf Most Anticipated Spring 2015 Poetry Selection
Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play is comprised of a number of individual poems—from love lyrics to conceptual elegies, from prompts for improvised performance poems to long poems that meditate on grief. The overarching theme of the book is loss.
In 1981 Jake Kennedy accidentally burnt down an abandoned house. Years later as an adult, he read a story about how Kurt Schwitters’ “interior house-sculpture” (“Merz Structure No. 2”) was destroyed in 1951 after some children playing with matches accidentally burnt the building down. This sad ‘unmaking,’ so similar in nature to his own haunting experience, became the inspiration for Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play, a collection of experimental poetry that explores the dynamic, if often unsettling, relationship between making and unmaking, bliss and pain, utterance and silence.
As diverse in form as they are in artistic/cultural references, the poems of Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play invoke an endless bounty of characters: the poet remembers Harold Ramis; Kafka summons the courage to tell his dad where to go; another tornado razes another small town; Yorick returns to run balls-out into the sea; Louise Bourgeois smashes a tea cup against one of her sculptures. Readers who connect with Phil Hall’s artistic investigations in Killdeer and Lisa Robertson’s clear-eyed take on humanity in Magenta Soul Whip will enjoy Kennedy’s feeling examination of loss.