[close this layer]

by Scott Inguito

Subday Press, 2005
Poetry chapbook. 36 pp., saddle-stapled

Reviewed by
Craig Santos Perez


Extrusion, a process used to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile, draws material (such as metals, polymers, ceramics, and food) through a die of desired shape. In an endnote to lection, Scott Inguito draws an analogy between extrusion and the poetic process of his work: “[lection] was collaged from the left and right edges of the Notes section of Paul Celan’s Breathturn [Sun & Moon, 1995]. The procedure produced its columnar form, in a sense ‘extruding’ single words into stacks.”

Inguito executes a poetic extrusion within a tradition of conceptual art, which Sol LeWitt defines as “the idea [becoming] a machine that makes the art.” We can read the process of conceptual art as an extrusion itself, drawing text through the die of an Idea to shape art. That Inguito chose to extrude the “Notes” to Breathturn and not the poetry itself suggests that he resists the Notes section’s attempt to extrude Celan’s difficult lyricism into a discursive referentiality. Inguito’s extrusion transforms this discursiveness into the desired shape of abstract minimalism.

The danger (for the reader) in any work of conceptual art occurs when the idea becomes more interesting than the poetry. More often than not, a conceptual poet will draw the poetry through the Idea without much thought to the poetry of the Idea. Fortunately, Inguito is not one of those artists. The minimalist quality of this work shows that Inguito is conscious of managing the Idea and of shaping the work after it has been cast through the die:


                  glish scratches

This page feels both conceptually determined and poetically shaped. Inguito works with the surfaces of the source text, but resists their “use” as “Notes.” He allows “glish” (what I read as “English”) to scratch at the surface, creating not only a “scape” of language in the act of extruding, but also the contours of language’s desire to “escape” referentiality. The title itself, lection, could refer to “reflection,” “inflection,” “collection,” “election,” or “selection.” The reader remains engaged throughout lection because there are many moments where the extruded word alludes to many other words, thus increasing the semantic range and referential vectors of each page:




“Ments” suggests “moments” or “torments” or “tenements” all in the same “breathturn,” opening a rather minimal poem into maximized semantic possibility. lection is a collection of eerie surfaces, complicating the “(b)raids” of “(musi)cally” composed space and “(prob)lematic” difficulty:



Inguito’s ability to ground lyricism in such small spaces infuses the conceptual with a hymnal rhythm. Words, extruding at the seams, seem to have a double life in such a “radikale” poetic project. lection is a striking work of conceptual poetry, and Inguito manages his poetic extrusion with a careful ear towards lyricism and a watchful eye towards vibrant indeterminacy.

Craig Santos Perez's reviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, First Intensity, Rain Taxi, Jacket, Rattle, How2, and Traffic, among others. You can link to his other reviews at blindelephant.blogspot.com.