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Lucky Finds

Jack Grapes


Bombshelter Press, 2000 45pp

ISBN: 9-941017-64-8

These pieces extend and parody the dynamic artistic productions of high modernism that began with Stéphane Mallarmé's Un coup de dés (A Throw of the Dice), continued with the works of the Italian and Russian Futurists, and reached their apogee in Ezra Pound's Cantos (with their graphic ideograms), Wallace Stevens's Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Louis Zukofsky's A, and Charles Olson's Maximus Poems.

The Author

Jack Grapes
is an award-winning poet, playwright, actor and teacher, recipient of numerous fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. He's the author of 13 books of poetry, and also wrote and starred in Circle of Will, which ran for several years in Hollywood and won drama critic awards for Best Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor.


There is a supreme and eloquent strength in Grapes's standing alone--it keeps him out of the various 'schools of poetry.' His poems are some of the best ever written.

Itabari Njeri, Los Angeles

Even those aware of Grapes's protean leanings might be startled by the appearance of Lucky Finds. Grapes is up to something different, but just how different becomes wildly apparent with Lucky Finds. Rather than a bound book we get a box of cards, unbound, plastered over with ideograms, quotations, floating stanzas and "feeble-nodes" (née footnotes). Even if we are inclined to read them linearly, top-to-bottom and start to finish, Grapes makes this nigh impossible, and perhaps unnecessary: we must turn them over, upside-down and sideways, frequently, to follow their chaotic path. It's fairly impossible to do justice to Lucky Find's diversity, its sprawling and multiplicitous nature, in brief; similarly, in fact, to do so at length. It is to Grapes's immense credit, and our pleasure, that these moves do not seem half-digested; they seem, rather, the product of an original, omnivorous sensibility. It takes great courage to draw these disparate and too-long oppositional strands of American poetry, the intimate and the cerebral, confessional and philosophical, literary and historical, into alignment. Greater courage still—courage and tremendous skill—to do it, and at the same time not take oneself, or one's work, too seriously; to begin, as so many poems this last half-century have, with a camera's impersonality and wind up with pie in the face. We should be glad to see him working this fertile vein—this unexpected, exultant, unmistakably American one—as successfully as he does.

Matthew Spector, Poetry Flash