Book Review: Eye, Apocalypse
Reviewed by Joshua Bligh
Eye, Apocalypse wears its jam-packed coterie of end-of-world-meets-daily-life imagery proudly, bursting at the seams with new takes on an age-old theme.
Erik Fuhrer’s collection of poems, Eye, Apocalypse, is a bold concept venture in looking at the apocalypse from every conceivable angle. In a sense, the word “apocalypse” serves as a central skeletal fragment upon which are draped a menagerie of scenes, phrases, and elements where imagery ranges from traditional fiery armageddon to melancholy moments of quotidian heartbreak.
The poems vary, with some arriving in short bursts of trumpet-sounding brevity while others curl up on the page and invite you in for apocalyptic tea. But all maintain their unwavering focus on the apocalypse, though more in a manner of a curious metonymy than beating the dead horse of Hollywood-blockbuster end times.
Eye, Apocalypse is broken into six sections, each working out some relationship to the titular apocalypse with its own unique flair and style, peppered with pop culture references and a flurry of imagery throughout. The apocalypse might be old as dirt (despite still not happening), but Fuhrer’s poems take this well-worn theme, dust it off, and hold it up under a novel spectrum of ideas.
That imagery is what keeps Eye, Apocalypse alive; it might drum on the apocalypse for dozens of poems, but you are getting it paired with objects, events, and references that are all far from what the average person may connote with “apocalypse.” Fuhrer’s poems massage and mold a single word into such a diverse spread of scenes that “apocalypse” comes to refer to anything and nothing at once, akin to the same manner of repetition ad absurdum that can make a familiar word sound alien on your tongue. Likewise the word begins to feel like a bleep on mid-day television, a censor that hides the true word and true meaning beneath it, if only you look at the context close enough.
This isn’t your mother’s apocalypse. This is, by turns, a rabid, decaying, scotch-drinking, napping, strutting, and altogether unique end of the world.
This ballroom dance with the apocalypse serves the purposes of the collection well, though it can leave the reader with a sense they are being tugged to and fro within a poem. As in a song with a rapidly changing time-signature, the reader may feel launched from one line’s curious tableau to the next, albeit without an obvious linking thread between them. On its own, this rapid-fire serving of phrases, imagery, and thoughts is not a problem and can at times feel like a buffet platter of fantastical scenes and objects. However, parsing meaning in each individual poem becomes difficult due to detached phrasing that does not always find itself fleshed out, leaving the reader with an image not altogether formed before the next phrase or piece is served up. You may find yourself often wondering along the lines of just why the apocalypse “is Saturn’s eighth ring” or why it dreamed of “riding a big rig through Heather, Missouri.”
As an exercise in a sort of apocalyptic exegesis, Eye, Apocalypse succeeds. If you let yourself ride the waves of Fuhrer’s imagery and fast pacing, you will spin out the other end with crisp vignettes dancing in your mind, an eyebrow raised, and a new understanding of what the apocalypse really means.
Publisher: Spuytin Duyvil
Print Length: 82 pages
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