Jake Syersak’s chapbook Impressions in the Language of a Lantern’s Wick emphasizes a sense of collaboration in art through both the simplistic presentation of his poetry and the humble form of the chapbook itself. On the outside of the book, Syersak’s title is etched in a personalized touch, gashing throughout the word “Language” as if language is only able to be expressed through the form of art.
Upon opening the chapbook, nothing could have been further from my mind when I saw the tiny font of the text, the rudimentary formatting of the text, and the wide-open spaces throughout the pages. The absence of text seemed to suggest more than the text itself, until I read the book. Throughout his poetry, Syersak emphasizes the unexpected collaboration of artist and viewer, both in the words of his poems and his replacement of every “and” with the ampersand, “&”. Notably, Syersak tells his reader to “let a solo conversation drip like a faucet all morning into more novel avowals of what a drain wills” (16). He also gives several examples of people drawing over notable art pieces, contributing to something that everyone else has seen as finished. Through his text, Syersak gives meaning to the blankness of his pages, as if he, too, is inviting his reader to color over his poetry. (Since I was borrowing the book, I refrained from such impulses.) Absence is merely an invitation to collaborate and create over top and alongside that which drives your impulses. So maybe that is why, early on in his book, Syersak insists that “there remains a love of remains, of a vital need for holes” (2). As if to illustrate his point, the chapbook is stab bound with bright red thread, drawing the eye to the holes it makes in a poetry book filled with “holes” in the text. I think Syersak would both approve of and encourage the reader who exploited these holes to create new art and meaning.
Syersak, Jake. Impressions in the Language of a Lantern’s Wick. Ghost Proposal, 2016.
2 thoughts on “Chapbook Holes: Jake Syersak’s Invitation”
The formatting reminds me of the format used in centuries past when large margins were supplied with the purpose of giving readers space for their own commentary and notes. Its almost a calling to bring back personalized yet collaborative works either artistic in the impulses you mentioned or by supplying verses of one’s own.
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Really insightful! I think the chapbook is a really effective medium for that collaborative/interactive art. I’m personally more willing to write/draw/annotate in paperback books than in hardcover, because the paperback somehow seems less precious or less permanent; the chapbook seems like an extension of that paperback openness to editing.
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