Review of Nanopedia

From the Washington Independent Review and the lovely Grace Cavalieri:

The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture by Charles Jensen is a chapbook. By definition a chapbook is “a small pamphlet containing
tales, ballads, or tracts, sold by peddlers.” (I like that!) Or, ―A small paperback booklet, typically containing poems or fiction.‖ Apparently these are sold by publishers who are not peddlers. The chapbook has a time-honored tradition in American Letters, and we can cite first editions from such influential poets as Eliot, Stevens, Pound—in fact, most estimable poets at one time or another issue a chapbook. However, because of its length, the publication is wrongly considered less than a book. It is a type of book and I like to think back to the 18th century when even more diminutive books could be slipped into the pocket of a frock coat. Charles Jensen’s poems are political statements in prose verse. Like a new Mazerati or Lady Gaga’s shoes, the poems are always surprising, never disappointing. His poetry seems to say: If some of us are here to wake you up, then what are the rest of you here for? Jensen’s line lengths trace exactly what the poet feels about a subject, but it happens to be in a unit of measure. Jensen’s poems are acts of civil disobedience. Each is a tiny discourse commenting on society’s foibles and artifices. The musicality and poetic perspective lets the poet speak without having to write an Op Ed piece. Poets wish to be of use. And Jensen certainly is, 25 times in this small book.

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