09.7.2018

The Public Life of Chemistry, poems by Joel Bettridge


Smyth-sewn paperback · 123p · $22 · 9780999491232

“Dialogue and uncertainty seem to be in short supply these days, but Joel Bettridge’s The Public Life of Chemistry aims to rehabilitate them. A series of letters to and from poet friends structures his book and creates an approach to knowledge that is less information than in formation. Quantum theory teaches that there is only relation. The Public Life of Chemistry seeks to demonstrate this in both its form and content, while not ignoring the modern age’s legacy of violence.” — Alan Gilbert

Joel Bettridge welcomes what he doesn’t know. In The Public Life of Chemistry, he works with words beyond his complete understanding — found in science books, Futurist manifestos, a discarded prayer book written in another language — and combines them in a series of experiments. He shares his findings with friends in poetry, and they reciprocate in kind. This repeated song cycle of finding, writing, and generous exchange, models a useful strategy for surviving confounding times.” — Jena Osman

“‘Are you writing me one of those poet letters,’ dead Lorca asked then-living Spicer, ‘the kind addressed to posterity?’ Joel Bettridge knows better than to muse much on posterity. His troubled and troubling poems speak out of the merciless contemporary, and their humor is mostly gallows: ‘The sudden, overwhelming weirdness that things / exist — you only make it worse.’ And yet this chempunk cyberscape seethes with connection — in the acuity of the poetry’s correspondences, and its reformation of the poet’s letter, synthesizing a space for transfigured being-with.” — John Beer





Joel Bettridge (© 2018)