Now That Memory Has Become So Important
Author: Karl Gartung
Publisher: Midwestern Writers Publishing House (2008)
"Gartung’s book is driven by work—care for work, devotion to a tradition, and interest in “some dignity.” In the preface, he describes the 'squared or rectangular spiral in the fields' as 'rounds.' This image of a square in a circle, which is the emblem of a field being worked, provides Gartung with the structuring model for his book, and for his perception of the work he clearly values. 'The center does not hold,' he tells us, 'and not quite as Yeats had it, it is serial. The point here is as physical as a field, an illusive center tilled toward, but never to a lasting resolution. Each field leads to another, worked and reworked, for various purposes in successive seasons, from tillage to harvest.' As the book proceeds, Gartung transforms this visualization into process, such that one sequence—seemingly discrete—opens into the next, not in the creation of some grand design; rather, in the sense of an ongoing operation, where elements from one sequence of poems might be involved in the next—peripherally, centrally, in whatever way needed.
Gartung is a poet in the Objectivist lineage, clearly and plainly. And while Williams, Bunting, Oppen, and Reznikoff are all invoked in the book, his great ancestor is doubtlessly his fellow dweller of the Badger State, Lorine Niedecker, whose precision, focus, wit and wordplay, Gartung appears to have reverently absorbed."