The title of Nick Courtright’s full-length debut suggests a book of jokes. However, the well-wrought poems in Punchline undermine these expectations. The joke is actually on all of us, the poet included. In Punchline, Courtight peers beneath the surface of the joke of existence, to see if he can better understand the comedian, the joke-writer, or the Grand Master of Ceremonies, if any of these exist.
Courtright’s revelatory odes to the mysteries of philosophy and science come right out of the visionary tradition, though they are filled with enough irony and self-doubt to avoid soapbox crankery (not that there’s anything wrong with that). In fact, it is Courtright’s embrace of the principles of uncertainty that give these poems life and beg us to re-read them, in order to be interrogated by them again and again. Courtright has the cold, hard stare of the soothsayer; it just so happens that everything in his world appears to be out of focus.
April 9th, 2012 / 12:00 pm