MICHAEL FLATT I CAN FOCUS IF I TRY
Ferrying between viscera and the virtual, the iris and the lens, Michael Flatt commits his attention to the vertiginous business of seeing seeing itself. Across a quartet of glitchhappy sequences which accrete, contract, and fracture like iPhone glass, his lyric phenomenology seeks to parse reality from its spectral façade, “studying the practice of light” to expand the ways we envision our precarious, prismatic selves. Fascinated by how flesh and bone interface with .exe and eye, I Can Focus if I Try is a vivid excursion through “our embedded-edge / intrascape.”
— ANDREW ZAWACKI, Unsun
Michael Flatt’s I Can Focus If I Try demands a different way of seeing. Built on a frame of Euclidean lyrics, it ebbs and flows elastically, allowing for engagement from a wide array of vantage points. Squint and you’ll find that these poems are “a martyrdom to any light source.”
- JIM JOHNSTONE, author of The King of Terrors
Flatt's poems’ experiments, in vision, in envisioning, let language oscillate, as inhale-exhale, as waves forward then breaking, so that the reader senses structures before they notice them, understands geometries before they know them. The lyric expansions and contractions within this collection surprise, even as their logics create anticipations. - AARON TUCKER, Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys and Catalogue d’oiseaux
Michael Flatt wrests nothing. Let the eye curve with them, an early line suggests, and so it does. In poems perceiving perception, we glide along the contours of things. Memories, images, ideas, actions, feelings. Nothing is settled, nothing so neat as to be totalizing or with reachable finitude, so unsettled this sensorium. To perceive, Flatt shows us, isn’t a matter of holding meaning in one’s hand, but of being buffeted by that onslaught. And the form follows the word. The language slowly fills in like the eye adjusting to shifting light, or the mind’s eye’s peeling revelation upon a flash of meaning. Like seeing an object whose horizon shifts as it turns, like reading a sentence whose meaning fills in as it slips away, like beach sand slipping through all our hands. These poems’ queer geometry defies expectation even as it reveals to us what we might expect when we simply open our eyes. TRAVIS SHARP, Yes, I Am A Corpse Flower
"What do we do with these gaps in our beauty?"
I CAN FOCUS IF I TRY
Poetry. Book. Full-length. Collection.
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MICHAEL FLATT is the author of Absent Receiver (SpringGun Press 2013) and, with derrick mund, Chlorosis (The Operating System 2018). He was named by J. Michael Martinez to the Poetry Society of America's list of New American Poets in 2013. He is the founder of Low Frequency Press, which publishes book-like objects of marginal aesthetics, and Threadsuns, a teaching press at High Point University, where he is an assistant professor of English.