Some Math, by Bill Luoma.
ISBN 9780976736462 (2011) $14.95
In Some Math, the syncopations of poetry meet the (ir)regularity of mathematical equations. Consider the “story problems” of high school math class. When encountering the word “and,” replace it with the addition symbol “+.” When encountering the word “of,” replace it with the multiplication symbol “x.” Now reverse the process. The result is a series of sound poems that both employ and interrogate the global language of systems and networks. Astrophysics. Computer science. Short tetrameters. Long dactyls. 9/11. US military strategy. The energy pathways of acupuncture. The fish ladders of Gmail. The wires and electrodes of torture. The swirling products of global capital. Mathematician Benjamin Pierce called his field “the science that draws necessary conclusions.” You do the math.
Bill Luoma is the author of Works and Days, Dear Dad, Swoon Rocket, and Western Love.
Some Math is a paradox: it often feels like a temporally misplaced work of high modernism, even as its allusions are drawn from the recesses and abscesses of twenty-first-century culture. Its many aesthetic contradictions, however, and more importantly Luoma’s willingness to persist amid them, are the engines of its success.—Kevin Moore, Make Magazine
Poetry has been mistaken so long for an all-or-nothing proposition that it sometimes feels like more of a hierarchy than the A.P. College poll. If a poet isn’t ranked in the top twenty-five, the feeling goes, why read him or her. Maybe I’m imagining it, this consensus-seeking chasing after the current number one with a bullet; maybe it’s real but also only a reflection of the larger culture. Most of the time I remember to forget it. When I do get that itch to compare compare compare, Bill Luoma’s second full-length collection Some Math reminds me not to care.—Jordan Davis, Constant Critic