Once again, Thilleman takes into his own writing body the chaos of the great question at its fundamental arc: who are we?—a quest that can only be pursued initially in language. He finds that language born in the mysteries of the primal urgency of our need—not so much to speak—as to think. Then, he establishes, Blake-like—a language not grammatical or ordinary, not a language merely of thinking, but a primal language rooted in the poetic of his own body, and thus this universal body we all share with this earth. Every age demands its own mythos. Thilleman creates a thoroughly contemporary mythology of consciousness which names the unnameables so that they might carry us from “Descent” all the way through chaos upon chaos, morass and vision to “what is to be known now.”
—Martin Nakell song’s the new being written on her zone?
T Thilleman goes where he has to go and knows what to do when he gets there. And, when do is possible, he can. There is no poem anything like this poem anywhere near this poem—this must be the poem.
T Thilleman’s thought-provoking poetic experiments challenge the mind & eye and illuminate the deepest crevices of our origins and longings, the ancient yet present and unchanging bedrock of human experience. His work deserves to be encountered, and reckoned with.
“Become one with the sway”—TT urges us: “zone’s zoom.” Figures herein are some sort of psycho-somatic procedure or experiment. Logic in which “flow’s polemic” is capable of discernment. The bridge made of bioluminescent threads or of fallen hairs collected from the first ape as she holds her offspring. I feel comfortable reading this book as a sacred text (Zohar), as personal manifesto or anti-memoir—as what I wish was the interior life of Us
weekly magazine in the grocery store line—to peruse or ponder while the person in line ahead of me is looking at their cell phone and not at the grocery clerk.
It is difficult, perhaps the work of a lifetime, to pin down the method, so the work then becomes the attempt. “There is an attempt to regulate the irrational aspects. So my work is always uncertain, but at the same time the uncertainty is arrested where the system breaks down, or where the incapacity comes in. To locate that is even more interesting than a willful, logical position; anybody can do that.” R. Smithson, “Pointless Vanishing Points.” Thilleman working to determine a method for this kind of inquiry constitutes a Williamsesque quest in Amerikan poetry so big only Olson took it on: once established, the idea is, the writer can return at will to pick up there, at the point left off, as if opening a book to the manuscript page marked, and proceed in the work. I would venture to summarize Thilleman’s methodology by use of Smithson’s observation that “where the system breaks down … is … more interesting.” This is the advance Thilleman makes.
T Thilleman’s Anatomical Sketches
is a stunning display of visionary daring, formal virtuosity, and intrepid intellect engaged in a process of world discovery, where discovery is understood as an act of imagination and articulation. The two teachers who come to mind in relation to Thilleman’s extensive work are Blake and Yeats. Like them he creates and populates a world of dynamic forms that range from emerging humans, to vast interstellar formations, to mythological forces, to the details of genetic exfoliation. At the heart of his committed pursuit, is the question, “What is this child of the world / Gathering sense within his wave-like singing?” This book is unique in a world of contemporary poetry dominated by precious lyrics and “avant-garde” word dumps. It takes up poetry’s ancient responsibility to preserve the world by informing it. What an extraordinary accomplishment.
Thilleman’s poems are playful and intellectual—a mirror of all the synapses, misfirings and disconnects that take place during the process of juggling two or three or more thoughts in the air at one time. It would be easy to say he is simply the latest offspring of a modernist/post-modernist tradition that began with Stein and Pound and continued up through Olson and Duncan, a tradition that encouraged getting lost as the way to discovering the hidden meaning of anything but Thilleman’s modus operandi is impossible to pin down, a surviving force amid the endless detritus and debris of the past who happens to be alive at this peculiar all-or-nothing moment.
Publisher: Madhat, Inc. (2019)