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.
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“[Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt By Children at Play] concerns itself with discovery and being lost, and how one can only truly be achieved through the other, composing a series of striking poems deliberately meant to occasionally unsettle, forcing a deeper attention of his incredibly sharp and precise poems.” —rob mclennan’s blog
“Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play is a kind of portmanteau book, full of disparate goodies, all of which tantalize the taste buds.” —Eclectic Ruckus
“Disjunction and interrogation form the backbone of Jake Kennedy’s Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play. The poems in the collection circle each other, continuously question themselves and embrace a position of uncertainty.” —Nina Jane Drystek, Arc Poetry Magazine
The Review: Merz Structure No. 2: Burnt by Children at Play by Jake Kennedy —Aaron Giovannone, Brick Magazine
Writers Block: Jake Kennedy and kevin mcpherson eckhoff —All Lit Up
Jake Kennedy is the author of two poetry collections: The Lateral (2010) and Apollinaire’s Speech to the War Medic (BookThug, 2011). His work has appeared in literary journals across Canada, the US, and the UK, including The Capilano Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Awl. Kennedy is the recipient of the bpNichol Chapbook Award for Hazard (BookThug, 2007), the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry for The Lateral (2010), and the Robin Blaser Award for Poetry for the long poem “Futuromani” (2011). He also received a BC Arts Council Writing Grant in 2013. Kennedy lives in Kelowna, BC, where he teach English literature and creative writing at Okanagan College. Connect with Kennedy on his blog (shared with kevin mcpherson eckhoff) www.gmorningpoetry.blogspot.com or on Twitter @GmorningPoetry.