The first time I met Ben Mirov he asked me to “pound it” after I said something funny and ever since then I’ve been sort of unequivocally on-board with Ben Mirov and what he does. I’m glad what he does is poetry. His first two books I is to Vorticism (New Michigan Press, 2010) and Ghost Machine (Caketrain, 2010) are books I recommend to people ceaselessly and re-read often for enjoyment, relaxation, and inspiration. Now he has this bright yellow chapbook called Vortexts to be released by Supermachine this Friday alongside Ben Fama’s likewise brightly-colored New Waves from Minutes Books.
When I asked Ben, after I found out the name of his new chapbook, why he likes Vorticism so much (Vorticism being this short-lived art/literary movement in the early 1900’s), Ben said something like “There’s nothing really about the movement I agree with, I just think it has a cool name.” I laughed and thought that was funny – Vorticism is funny – but his answer feels pretty indicative of how Ben’s poems work. The poems are approachable, they don’t take themselves too seriously, yet they are full of concern, intelligence, and a veneration for poetry itself. Take this passage from “Light from Dead Stars Doesn’t Lie”:
I don’t know. I am trying to tell you about
my friends. The way they have no body or face.
The way they cannot save the Great Barrier Reef
or the people in cities or anything.
They cannot even save themselves.
They walk slowly into the thunderhead.
They turn around and look me in the face
and I’m afraid. I can barely breath. Then I notice
I’ve arrived and the porch is coated in rain.
Vortexts, to me, feels like the next logical step in the poetic lineage established in Ben’s earlier work. It contains the hilarious thought progressions of the poems in I is to Vorticism and the brilliant lines of Ghost Machine (e.g. “I use my eagles to touch your wolf. / Try harder to carry your wolf, I say.”) but with new formal constraints (tercets) and something else, something harder to put a word to. It feels like Ben pushing further into his Ben-ness in search of a more perfect Ben. There is a welcomed maturity and lyricism to the poems in Vortexts. He’s refusing to settle, and I really enjoy reading it.