Garrett Caples

Though surrealism as an artistic movement failed to live up to exactly what it sought to achieve, it seems that some young poets today have taken the surrealist example to heart and have made the idea their own — thus creating a new genre which is exclusively molded within their mind’s eye. Andre Breton is most probably rolling in his grave right now pointing his finger through a faded patch of grass overlooked by a stone.

Garrett Caples is one such young poet who’s taken the surrealist example to heart.

His work is a swirling labyrinthine landscape in which reality and the content of dreams fuse and collide and fire up and interconnect. Each line throughout his book Er, Um spreads and entangles and forms a very unique image overflowing with suggestion eros imagination thus creating a very rich multi-dimensional vision of the world.

Caples is a poet located in Oakland, California. Not only does his work appear to be influenced by the surrealists (i.e., Char, Lamantia, etc.) but Garrett is very fond of hip-hop as well. His fondness for both genres shows in the first poem – the title poem – in this collection Er, Um:

i was a teenage gingerale: my bubbles spiraled upward and rippled a puddle of ironing board. i was a pile of bored, all tusk and wart, i saw i was screwed and hammered. the more i tooled around the box, the more i stammered glamorously. amorously it was freaky. my speaking came out of sequins, in pudenda-purple puzzles and penis-verdi cubes. i got used to boobs and tubes, iffy lube, the protuberance of obvious wobble.

If I didn’t know better I’d say that this poem was written by the bizarre love-child of Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Louis Aragon. This is only one example of Caples’ genius.

Caples’ work is very musical (almost Steinian). When I read the work aloud to my partner I sensed a bizarre urban rhythm pouring forth from my vocal chamber.

There’s also an almost inexplicable anxiety that is interwoven throughout Caples’ book. to me Caples is almost asking: “Do we really know the world? Can we ever really know anything at all?”… and by asking these such questions caples reinvents the world in which he himself and all of us live in.

“Imagine a town with no numbers. Did I say a town? I more meant the expanse of unplanned plains, or optional intersections. Fields, some trees. No commerce, of course, no work ‘cept for food, and who wants to eat alone? (I picture spontaneous picnics.) The individual is still accepted, hate is not unknown, but demand for solitude’s grown so rare we lacked concepts for its expression.”
excerpt from Turd Factory

The collection Er, Um is a hallucinatory walk through the corridors of Caples’ keen mind.

the book is heightened even further by the very unique drawings of hu xin — a chinese artist who as a graduate student was drawn to salvador dali’s paranoiac-critical method and “his own repeated attempts to fuse the essence of traditional Chinese painting and realistic oil painting brought about a distinct technique.”

I found that as I flipped through the book I couldn’t put it down. The first reading is the reading that counts the most to me and as I read along I found Caples’ work to be addictive — the work is extremely enjoyable: witty, erotic, philosophical, reminiscent of taking a hit of acid, and much more.

“in a joint near
a babbling book
i unconsciously turned
on my tongue
it kept on waking
more asleep
from a taste of
the bud of being”

excerpt from turning on the tongue

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!