NOVEL APPROACH: Hiding the ‘Biscuit’

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First Posted: 9/2/2013

In David Kirby’s newest poetry collection, “The Biscuit Joint,” readers are given a lesson on the fine arts — of woodworking. Of course, chipping away further, readers soon find what is hidden, layers deep.

Known for his intellectually amusing collections such as “The House of Blue Light” and “Talking About Movies With Jesus,” Kirby now gives readers a collection focused on the elusive biscuit joint. The term, as glossed from “The Complete Woodworker’s Bible,” is distinguished by “a method of creating a snug fit between two pieces of wood. The mechanics of a biscuit joint are hidden, making this technique popular for applications where wood-workers do not want people to be able to see the joint. Done right, the joint is stronger than the wood itself.”

The collection, while petite, contains nearly 20 prose poems that capture playfulness on the brim of bawdiness. Most of the pieces are blunt and funny, often written as long-formed thoughts. We read as though we are going through Kirby’s contemplations, no breath or pause in between. As a whole, the collection is tightly bound by themes of life, death and remembrance. Some standout poems include: “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon,” “Almost Happy,” “Breathless,” and “Horrible Things May Be True.”

In a portion of “East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon,” Kirby leads readers with one of his elongated thought processes: “Friend of my mother comes up at her funeral (my mother’s, not the friend’s) and says my mom once told her that ‘when David was a baby, he always seemed to be smiling, and I wanted to find out if he smiled all the time or began to smile because he heard me coming, but I never could,’ though since I was sans words in those days, I wouldn’t know, either, would I, though it goes without saying that I’d like to have thrown a net over my infant experiences.” Trailing off into distant memories, Kirby then connects his past to present.

After reading the collection, one can quickly discern the commonalities between a woodworker and their biscuit joint and Kirby and his own techniques: each attempt, working towards a seamless smoke and mirror act with a secret found deep inside. The work is colorful and enjoyable, beckoning back to Kirby’s vintage techniques while managing to showcase his poetic evolution over time. In the end, whether a new or seasoned admirer of his work, Kirby has proved that “The Biscuit Joint” is certainly “done right.”

‘The Biscuit Joint’ by David Kirby Rating: W W W W