A book of prismatic, lyrical poems that enhance and disrupt the pastoral tradition to consider organic and mineral worlds, queer desire and experience, the mathematical and the spiritual, struggle and resistance.
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Pink Noise orbits in spaces of memory, longing, violence, solidarity, the ecological, and the mystical. Experimental in its forms and lexicon, in poems ranging widely in style and scale, it moves through layers of musical intensity as it reworks the visual space of the page to generate sensations of presence and revelation. Simultaneously lucid and syntactically disjunctive, these poems are queer and radical not only in their content, but in their grammar.
In Pink Noise, sometimes like a crackling icicle you see a glimmer of diamond dust, pink by nature. Here, in this book of poems. The lines are electric, conveying a new kind of sensuality, all quick and zapped. An oncoming fusion of poetic thinking with the sciences. Exciting! What we’ve been waiting for.
These poems are flecked with quartz and risk, love and dejection, pink and blood-red ecstatic brooding. Kevin’s line redirects consciousness to the magic of forgotten minutia and overlooked associative deliverance “from cypress to pine before / fierce queen on a blank stage.” His language sets that stage for a tenderness that is in no way meek, for a sense of divinity found where life is. His is one of the voices that sets the bar for what poetry can do in this world.
A queer lyric—like a queer body—holds within itself culture’s dueling impulses. In Kevin Holden’s singular poetics, libido’s lavish disordering resists rationality’s drive toward “the war and reality / of our clear / civilization.” What results is a “rose tone row,” a nonce musical system he calls Pink Noise. Here queer experience sings alongside angular, abstract phrases sampled from math and science. Beautifully resisting conventional beauty, Holden makes atonal music whose fine phrasing “glints, glitters, shines, shimmers, glows.”
Beyond anything this side of Finnegans Wake. Holden is fields and particles away, really, from all previous mutations of language. He writes like an appointed medium for the sun.
This book is like a vardøger. I felt it before it arrived—“a former ghost.” Holden’s formations come together, crystalline and spinning, into consummate shape. Geometry, mathematics, gay sex, earth, cosmos, mysticism, and skepticism are held together in these pages as in a polyhedron, semitransparent, where each facet is visible at a certain angle but from another angle disappears to show a facet on the shape’s opposite side. Beautiful and distinct, this work is filled with discrete infinities.
Pink Noise is delightfully attuned to the living complexity of language, an experience that Holden renders as both conceptual and tactile… [He] approaches the book more as sculptor than storyteller, chiseling linguistic forms from his expansive lexicon to create a book-length symphony… connecting the biological to the sexual to the computational to the quotidian, Holden’s pink noise emerges as a wonderfully disobedient poetics, an irrepressible hum comprised of its own frequency patterns.
Kevin Holden is a poet, translator, and essayist. His books include Solar, which won the Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Birch, which won the Ahsahta Press Chapbook Award. He is …