Above poem “Mural” from time’schange
Eliot Cardinaux has penned eleven collections of poetry to date, including Leaning Against the Mystery, The Virgin Clock, Guide to Torment, Treebones and Riddlepieces, time’schange, The Gown of Entry, 21 Leaves, The Afterfacts, and Nativity. He briefly studied poetry from 2015-2016 under Ruth Lepson, a faculty member at the New England Conservatory and a former student of Anne Sexton and Robert Creeley. Cardinaux would cite among his influences the Russian Acmeist poet Osip Mandelstam, French surrealist poet René Char, and post-war German-language poet Paul Celan, among many others.
Cardinaux’s newest collection, Nativity, now out on The Bodily Press, is a 4 part sequence exploring the symbols, images, and phenomena of the present age. It includes an exhibition of highly triggered, symbolic imagist poems, entitled “Guests;” an essay outlining the author’s “Theses on the Philosophy of Rarity” in the digital age; a short selection of personal dedications in verse, titled “Sentiments;” and a long-form, fragmentary poetics, also in verse, entitled “is the soft boy ready.”
‘I’m thinking of an inverse poetry, which turns experience outward like a flower, raises up without empathy, and echoes the reader, without ensnaring; its collection would be, like their trace upon a winter city, a ghost town for friends.’
-Eliot Cardinaux, from the introduction to Nativity
Fragments and poems from Nativity
The Afterfacts (2016), a trilogy comprised of three collections: Still Life, A Future Companion, and Our Hearts as Thieves, deal with the role of artist as it relates to the rising trend of nationalist sentiment in the U.S. and abroad. In it the author draws from his previous work in the field of concrete poetry to chip away at the political mask which daunts the future.
From Our Hearts as Thieves
From A Future Companion
From Still Life
Cardinaux’s 21 Leaves (2016) is a poetic treatise on the dangers of escapism, technology, and avoidance on the subject of human nature. Based in part on the writings of Paul Celan, and ranging from dystopian romantic lyrics, to serialistic, vortical outbursts, and musings on the rapture of the meta hinging on themes of nature and technology, this collection of poetry forms a shapely poetics of the future.
From 21 Leaves
The Gown of Entry
The Gown of Entry (2016) is a collection of prose poems in which the author uses allegorical personae to depict existence trapped in the higher realms of poetic expression, while in reality, life is debased through confusion, spite, and dread. The poems range in character from figurative to imagistic, and in style from their detailed description of the phenomena of the mind, to their allegorical pathways through the cubist architecture of dual consciousness. The collection as a whole is relayed through a majestic, absurd narrative relating to the poet’s plight to reconcile both sides of this conundrum.
From The Gown of Entry
time’schange (Studies in Mist: Abstracts from the Midnight Era)
In his fifth collection, time’schange (2015), Cardinaux reveals his fascination with the cusps between differing realities, sensations, and ideas in poetry. Subtitled Studies in Mist, after the “Misty” Poets of late 20th Century China, or Abstracts from the Midnight Era, this collection of poems deals with those crepuscules suspended between periods in history. The rapid advancement of technology, particularly the iPhone, plays a role in this setting, as the book was dedicated to Foxconn factory workers in Shenzhen, China.
“The Cemented Image” is a term Cardinaux uses to describe his attempt throughout these poems at breaking down the unyielding normalcy by which we continuously and unconsciously attain rote meaning from existence. Through this imagistic, concrete poetry, Cardinaux tries to detonate the center of a hard layer of totalitarian reality, to conceive of forms that are paradoxically formless in nature, such as movement, memory, desire, and like one of his heroes, the “Misty” poet Bei Dao called: Forms of Distance. In time’schange, Cardinaux’s poems attempt to shatter the monotonous sameness that pervades modern life, making tangible those forces that are more reliable to serve the reader.
Treebones and Riddlepieces
Cardinaux’s fourth collection Treebones and Riddlepieces is a sound piece derived from his work in the field of improvisation. The adjoining album is available for download at:
From Treebones and Riddlepieces
Experiments in Concrete Poetry
Cardinaux’s third collection of poetry, Guide to Torment (2014), deals in part with the relationship between several American modernist poets of the early 20th Century, including Ezra Pound, H.D., and T.S. Eliot. Using Roman myths, the poet is driven by themes of lunacy, power, and grief, to depict the impending rise of fascism.
From Guide to Torment
Cardinaux’s first two collections of poetry, Leaning Against the Mystery, and The Virgin Clock, deal with the artist’s struggle in search of a voice, lending the two collections an air of awkward sincerity and inward reflection.