dan kaplan

Bill’s Formal Complaint    
The National Poetry Review Press, 2008

“In Dan Kaplan’s provocative new book, Bill’s Formal Complaint, we encounter American neo-surrealism at its finest in the form of Bill, the quirky representative of our privileged discontent with living. Bill immediately takes us everywhere and nowhere, flaunting his eponymous history, then leading us breathlessly into the netherworld of dream and the accidental beauties of miscommunication, only to escort us out of it with the same uncertainty: who was Bill? (“How Would You Describe Him?”) The title poem captures the psyche of the book as it ritualizes the contemporary tendency to blame our progenitors for our physical and spiritual failures. The form of choice, used to brilliant effect, is the sonnet, which Kaplan synchronizes to Bill’s level of anguish: “…The dream never varies,/only the piece. Who said that? Or maybe//it goes recurrence is comfort and curse./That’s it. Recurrence is comfort and curse.” (“Ordinarily #2) We can almost hear the ghost of Miroslav Holub, the great Czech poet, whispering from Pilsen a possible preface to this book: “Mummy, come here, there’s a dead devil—” but what follows is the story only Bill can tell.”

Larissa Szporluk

Red Hydra Press, 2005http://www.redhydrapress.com/books.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0

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A letterpress, bilingual chapbook produced in collaboration with book artist Steve Miller, Cuban artist Julio César Peña Peralta, and translator Maria Vargas. 

“A chicken in orbit, an armless orchestra, all manner of objects wobbly and surreal, dire and dear, inhabit this haggard landscape of non-stop linguistic playfulness that flickeringly translates into Bill, or Billness, or Billessence—a life-like postmodern everyman whose languagey bits coalesce long enough to give voice to this unforgettable complaint. What a funny, crafty, wise, warm, virtuosic debut!”

Robin Behn

"These conversational poems use a rich lyricism for a variety of effects, including raising questions about our most mundane hardships and imperfections, as well as the absurdities that lie behind them....The cumulative effect of these satisfyingly eclectic poems works like linguistic game pieces, providing fragments of a familiar man for us to play with and interpret and seek joy in. Kaplan manages to convey the characteristics and haphazard scenarios of Bill’s life with humor and aplomb, allowing us to laugh at his plight even as we sympathize with him.”


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