The particulars of 57-year-old Marc Jampole and his first book of poetry are elusive. His 89-page Music from Words is the only title listed in the catalog of Bellday Books, whose Web site explains: “Founded in North Carolina, Bellday Books is a small press that specializes in publishing the finest in contemporary American experimental poetry.” Strangely, though, the contact information for Bellday locates the press in Pittsburgh, Penn. Jampole can be found in Pittsburgh, too, where he runs the public relations firm Jampole Communications Inc. Also a former news reporter, Jampole’s Wikipedia page credits him with being “the first journalist to highlight the impact of the graying of the baby boom generation on American society.”
Music from Words hews to the slogan on the Jampole Communications Web site: “Ideas with Results.” The poems are densely cerebral, the product of extensive reading, and language-crammed. There are echoes of Hopkins’ mouth-filling sprung rhythm, Stevens’ vibrant wordplay and Pound’s obscurantist intertextuality. One poem recasts Moses as a suburban dad, another might be described as a Cheeverization of J. Alfred Prufrock, and in a third Gilgamesh gets stuck in traffic. Sylvia Plath, Marcus Aurelius, Benny Goodman and Cotton Mather all make appearances, and in “July 4th” the jazz violinist Joe Venuti is made into the world’s great signifier. Lines of alliterative, multi-syllabic mischief like “gala openings/ of gallerias and millenarian exfoliation/ around the mitochondria, occasionally well-schooled/ in fixing results of presidential pneumectomies” would be fun to hear in an Adrian Belew-era King Crimson song. But there is also the occasional verse of startling clarity, like “Liana to Rafflesia,” which regards love as a “parasitic sport” of mutual depletion.
Jampole may or may not choose to fill in the blanks when he comes to the Triangle this week, but at least we’ll find out how to pronounce his last name. He reads at the Regulator Bookshop 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25, and at Quail Ridge Books and Music 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26.