This Wasted Land
and Its Chymical Illuminations
Annotated by Tom Bradley
242 pages: $19.00
Marc Vincenz has achieved the virtuosic feat of rendering homage to The Waste Land while simultaneously engendering a love epic of nine hundred lines. In Eliotian terms, he pursues a spirit who has, since the arrival of Homo sapiens, been manifesting herself in apparitions and nightmares. Vincenz enters and plunders the minds of Alexandrian gnostics, Celtic Druids, medieval alchemists, magi of the Iranian Plateau, and tantric adepts of the Indus Valley.
Meanwhile, Tom Bradley has annotated this book in the strange way he did Epigonesia (BlazeVox Books) and Felicia's Nose (MadHat Press). He strip-mines the pseudepigrapha and snuffles into Mariolatry's odd pastel nooks, where the sense of smell prevails over all others. As a precaution, Bradley doesn't neglect to conjure the crone initiatrix of the Vama Marga who teaches prophets, seers and revelators to control their gag reflex. Gradually, something like a novel materializes among the endnotes. A strange figure emerges: Siegfried Tolliot, who, in 1958, shared intimacy with Ezra Pound at Saint Elizabeth's insane asylum in Washington, D. C.
The result is that rarity of rarities: a new genre, situated in real time as the poet's bright lyricism contends with the cackling paranoia of his annotator. It all culminates in a 300-item bibliography and an index of 900 entries, citing everyone from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa to Zosimos of Panopolis.
Praise for This Wasted Land
This Wasted Land is a virtuosic display of language and historical context. It is a work that is unique and totally new while still honoring the lineage from which it comes. This Wasted Land is a work about alchemy as a transformative agent and the allegorical journey to find the meaning of existence. It invokes James Joyce’s (and Joseph Campbell’s) monomyth, the hero’s journey and the classic archetypes of ancient myth: Ulysses, Perseus, Heracles, Achilles, Odysseus, Orpheus. It is also about the pursuit of our shadow selves and the realization that we are the ones that we have been waiting for."
—Heavy Feather Review
... a veritable feast of narrative and images consisting of no less than four languages and daring to invoke everything from classical mythology to astrology to American popular culture. One second we wax poetic about Scientology, Velcro, and Diet Coke, and the next our “Eyes scan flowing brown water for signs / of Kraken or Charybdis,109 bobbing of sludge . . .” followed shortly thereafter by references to Goethe and Herodotus. This wonderfully dizzying conglomeration of subject matter combined with the grace of Vincenz’s language comprises the very essence of a pharmaceutically induced recollection of a rainy day at the college library. Random strolls down the stacks, random books removed from the shelves and opened randomly, yet in the end the whole of the experience coalescing into a singularly beautiful and satisfying adventure ... Be here now, listen closely and pay attention, and wallow in the beautiful whole of it.
—Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal
This Wasted Land, bearing the subtitle And Its Chymical Illuminations, is a rendered gestalt of high parody. It is where the sacred and profane coalesce in some bastardly amalgam, chymically turbocharged by the Holy Grail of the feminine mystique. The accomplished, albeit surly, annotator punctuates this book with erudite verses through the episodic traipse, teasingly lifting the veil on Love’s Pursuit, requited or not, through a conjuring of many previously sojourned-in places. This collaboration between Vincenz the Poet and Bradley the Annotator is a “virtuosic feat”, and a worthy parody of much academic pretension.
—The Philadelphia Review of Books
[Unlike Elliot's The Wasteland], This Wasted Land is flat out humorous; it uses critical apparatus in the vein of Nabokov or Flann O’Brien; the footnotes, etc, are meant to ‘take over’ (or ‘hijack’) the work itself .The ‘notes’ to This Wasted Land are by one Tom Bradley. I Wikipedia’d him and, as far as they are concerned, he exists, so I suppose I have to give him existence as well. Take your time reading This Wasted Land and marvel at Marc Vincenz’s erudition, and let all of the author(s) conceits flow over you—it adds up to an enjoyable trip.
This is what Borges might have written if he were less conservative and a little more hip. And it sure shows its Pound and Bolano—not to mention a host of language poets who seem tame by comparison.This Wasted Land will frustrate some readers, madden some, and cause some to close the book and run for the hills—this is definitely not your grandfather or grandmother’s kind of book.
The Wasted Land: And Its Chymical Illuminations is reminiscent of the Marquis de Sade writing footnotes for Chaucer or T.S. Elliot; only nothing like it ever happened until now. Marc Vincenz and Tom Bradley have created a treasure in literature that deserves more than attention: give this book your time and some Alchemical secrets of love, smut and the sublime will favor you.
—Jim Lopez, Creator, & Editor of ANTIQUE CHILDREN and author of Abstracts of an American Pageant
In this and eight previous books, Marc Vincenz has published some of the richest and most complex poetry. It's an understatement to say This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations rewards close reading. To aid us in our extensive liberal arts education, Tom Bradley has obliged us with 140 pages of endnotes, packed with an extensive bibliography and index. This is a book worthy of any bibliophile's collection --to be read and reread, and handed down for generations.
—Midwest Book Review
Steins--Gertrude Stein, Albert Einstein, Frankenstein--show up in the bibliographic references to Marc Vincenz and Tom Bradley's This Wasted Land and Its Chymical Illuminations, but how to apply them exceeds the People's Modernist's (Gertrude Stein) strategies, the great relativity physicist's (Albert Einstein) theorems, and the hulking monster's (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) rages. Necessarily, This Wasted Land, a complex erudite piece de resistance, goes beyond the crossroads of T. S. Eliot's collaboration with Ezra Pound, but entrance to this Garden of Eden with all its permutations of sex and living is at your own risk.
—Karren LaLonde Alenier, author of The Steiny Road to Operadom, The Making of American Operas
Nothing like it. A transcendence. Completely novel. Will be remembered forever. And that is an understatement. I didn't think giants still walked the earth. I know about comedy, wit, multiple allusions... but I didn't think anyone was still around who could do what Vincenz and Bradley did in This Wasted Land... delight after delight...
—Joe Green, author of The Limerick Homer
A palatial homage to Eliot; ludic cruise through Pound’s errata. Ideally epic, This Wasted Land preens and pummels conceptual imagery into a sacred profane realization of feminine figure manifesting appearances in a spindle of eras. The letter leaves no wand unwaved, no veil unraised, no, the fearless love song curiously transfigures her extreme essences throughout time. This is transnational and transcontinental muse. A meditative investigation with rare sourcing, scat. Instead of the traditional, Vincenz rips it up with careening force, rhythmic gales unleashing the unexpected. Freely loosening rodents, pestilence, while he borrows the familiar beautiful, iconic then couples comfort with foul, casts off ashen and machinated debris, all the while experimenting his way through encoded episodic verse, gaining poetic perversity in annotated wanderlust, and topsy turvy embrace. This isn’t the love song we thought we came for—it’s the chase. Bradley’s multilayered, alchemical annotations, anchor this book—the poem, the notes, the expansive bibliography – deliver a rare multiverse of a read. Phenomenal, scintillating.
—Allison Hedge Coke, Winner of the American Book Award and author of Blood Run
Marc Vincenz is a poet of liberal booziness, and he is imaginative and interested in what Frank O’Hara calls ‘the real meaning of fertility.’ Vincenz is frequently telling us that the Scotsman has no kilt. For Eliot, the fragment is tragic, in need of redemption, in need of assemblage. For Vincenz the fragment is marvelous in its own moment. Reading This Wasted Land, I was reminded that a week before Allen Ginsberg read all of T.S. Eliot’s poetry aloud to himself. He, too, like these alchemical gentlemen, arrived at imagination and humor as the ally of love.
—David Blair, author of Ascension Days
From ‘the dimness of that Portobello antique shop’ to ‘purple-haired Cornish coach tourists’, from ‘laminated tabletops and the mountain ranges beyond Chengdu’ to ‘those gondalieri, wild ones with their coppery manes’, Marc Vincenz conjures, with ostensible effortlessness, memories one is aghast to realize one scarcely knew were there, rather in the manner (however unlikely the comparison) of Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence. Playful but pensive incongruities—a ‘judicial right of crenellation’, the flick of a stub to the floor, ‘disgusted at the lack of ashtrays’—do that rare thing of poetry responsibly riddling the reader. Tom Bradley’s copious and critical annotations give us the capricious erudition of a T. S. Eliot in March Hare guise, whilst delivering such mirthfulness as would befit Boccaccio. In Vincenz’s own words, ‘the mind reels, tied to a mast, the heart burns, roped up.’
—Umit Singh Dhuga, The Battersea Review
Count the allusions in This Wasted Land And Its Chymical Illuminations. Multiply by a thousand or two. Think: Ficciones by way of Marcel Benabou’s To Write on Tamara? A put on, yes, but a glorious one, and a two-fer: Marc Vincenz’s five wildly connotative poems arrow-struck by promiscuous erudition, followed by Tom Bradley’s brilliantly subversive annotations—in sum, longer than the poems themselves. Not to mention, Siegfried Tolliot’s equally hilarious in-character Afterward. So make that a three-fer.
—Daniel Lawless, Plume
Marc Vincenz is a genuine poet, not something you can say of very many poets these days. He belongs to the generation that is in ascendancy, as the older generations are fading in interest and influence, and it would be foolish not to be aware of his work.
Vincenz’s poetry evokes worlds of detail anchored through figures of power and perpetual demise who are most humble and common, wise and dangerous—and capable of a Dostoevskian consciousness and suffering.
—George J. Farrah, author of The Low Pouring Stars