by K. Silem Mohammad
K. Silem Mohammad is the Andy Warhol of contemporary poetry, acutely scraping the bottom of the cultural barrel with such prescience, precision, and sensitivity that we are forced to reevaluate the nature of the language engulfing us. Our first impulse is to flee, to deny its worth, to turn away from it, to write it off as a big joke; but as with Warhol's car crashes or electric chairs, we are equally entranced, entertained, and repulsed: we can’t stop looking. This is important and beautiful work, but not in the way we’ve come to expect. It’s a double-edged sword that Mohammad is holding against our necks, forcing us to look at ourselves in the blade’s reflection with equal doses of swooning narcissism and white-knuckled fear.
This book is a "violent chainsaw w/fur" with some “hard shit [added] to it,” and just reading its table of contents over and over again did more (and labored less) to shock, awe, amuse and inspire me than an entire shelf full of the typical boring stuff currently being labeled as poetry. If you can’t appreciate The Front then I can only assume that “you equate new ideas with rape.”
Of those infinite monkeys chained to those infinite typewriters, which one actually came up with King Lear? At first it looks like one of those conundrums that’ll never be solved. But with K. Silem Mohammad’s The Front we catch a glimpse of a method that just might move us in a fruitful direction. First, take all the language on the web—it’s not infinity, but it’s what we’ve got for the moment—then stand exposed to those howling social gales. If you want to know what it feels like to lose sovereignty, go to The Front.
Publication date: November 2009