In these radiant destabilizations of language, Dan Kaplan’s 2.4.18 sizzles within the lineage of extraction books like Annie Dillard’s Mornings Like This, Mary Ruefle’s A Little White Shadow, and Srikanth Reddy’s Voyager. Pivoting on language strangeness—from “sun-roasted” to “snow brief”—Kaplan’s erasures shift and surprise, asking us to “re-see” text and its multi-layered meanings. The poems’ sonic laddering keeps rippling outward into the vividness of “blue coastal fields” and “two parrots printed in red ink” to the kinesis of “the wave was starting / at the house party.” Kaplan’s book is the brilliant oddball at the party who shows up donned in a “costume of bubbles” inquiring about the “geometry of a wing.” It’s the person you keep conversing with long after the party’s over.
This book begs many questions. What is a poetic voice? Is it a cut-up sensibility? Does it try to salvage a random day of reportage from oblivion? Is 2.4.18 as promising as any other day? What is news that stays news in our Anthropocene? Please then, every lyrical consideration for these momentary stays against confusion.
I recommend this book to anyone who reads the news, or simply scrolls through it, as I do most mornings, seeking glimmers of hope among the ruins. Line after lean and loaded line, these poems remind me that even within the most rigidly codified form of public discourse, “it’s possible to live in a basic field of wow.”
Dan Kaplan is the author of 2.4.18 (Spuyten Duyvil, 2023), an erasure of the February 4, 2018 issue of The New York Times; Instant Killer Wig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018); Bill’s Formal Complaint (The National Poetry Review Press, 2008); and the bilingual chapbook SKIN (Red Hydra Press, 2005). His work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, VOLT, Denver Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Poetry Northwest, the anthology Flash Fiction Forward (W. W. Norton & Co.), and elsewhere. He is editor of Burnside Review Press and lives in Portland, Oregon.