Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Dan Kaplan is the author of the poetry collection Bill's Formal Complaint (The National Poetry Review Press, 2008) and the bilingual chapbook SKIN (Red Hydra Press, 2005), an edition produced by printmakers and book artists in Cuba and the U.S. His work has appeared in publications including American Letters & Commentary, VOLT, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square, Barrow Street, Meridian, Indiana Review, and the anthology Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton & Co.). He lives in Portland, Oregon.
In [Bill's Formal Complaint], Dan Kaplan brings together traditional and nontraditional poetic forms with often startling imagery to share his unusual view of a familiar suburban world. What Kaplan's main character, Bill, sees and feels might have been drawn from any of our lives, wrapped up as Bill is in an ineffectual wondering about his own identity, but the language with which Kaplan shares Bill's wondering is consistently engaging, quirky, and intuitive. From his backyard hammock where he lies in "comfortable exhaustion," Bill issues less a complaint than an anatomy of the necessary limitations of modern life. Whether or not you've seen "'Bill' stitched in cursive red letters on the breast pocket of a shirt worn by a teenager who never knew Bill" or worn the shirt yourself, you will find in Kaplan's poems an infectious amazement at the other people (the many versions of Bill) who live their lives around you without your interruption or interference, and recognize the unspoken familiarity you share with those people.
Kaplan's poems make a convincing argument for the continued presence of the sonnet in contemporary poetry, while also experimenting with hybrid prose forms. [Bill's Formal Complaint] is also remarkable for its use of some of the tools of language poetry without invoking the cynicism typical of many language poets.
As is the case with most contemporary books of poetry, Kaplan's book transcends a "five-star rating" in that it is worth checking out for yourself.
Was this review helpful to you?