by Christian Peet
Excerpted for Fence Books’ Best of Fence: The First Nine Years
32 pages. Hand-bound, pamphlet stitch.
Palm Press, 2006.
Begun in response to Words of Mass Deception used to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, The Nines is a cross-genre series of lyric essays exploring the systems that would have us measure “knowledge and skills such as comprehension, vocabulary . . . geometry, physics, social deconstruction, and the Mayan calendar—only to discover the answer is B) Rod McKuen and Mary Oliver.” Both a call to arms and a wakeup call in a suburban Marriott, The Nines is a redeye flight you just know is going down. “You gotta remember,” says the author, “this was 2003, so the invasion was still new. ‘Discourse’ was not the word of the day. Language itself had been hijacked.”
Hailed by critics as “at least as much fun as poetry,” the nine movements of Book 1 include mutations born of an Edge.org interview with mathematician and philosopher Reuben Hersh, as well as a variety of appropriated critical, scientific, and instructional texts including George F. Adams’ and Jerome Wykoff’s Landforms (A Golden Guide); Kenneth Clark’s Landscape Into Art; Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time; Eric N. Franklin’s and William H. Watkins’ Breakdance!; Anne Waldman’s and Marilyn Webb’s collection of lectures by visiting authors, Talking Poetics from Naropa Institute; and James Webb’s The Occult Establishment.