Like the book’s title, the poems of Adèle Barclay’s Renaissance Normcore move swiftly from unassuming to tightly coiled and somewhat provocative. “You Don’t Have to Choose But You Do” follows fast from epigraphs by Jenny Lewis and Fiona Apple and into the more traditionally literary, creating a Facebook Messenger conversation between Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. The deft maneuvering is, by the end of the poem’s twenty-two lines, made comprehensible in the framework of an inequitable exchange: “I read their letters / and imagine them both on Facebook Messenger— / all the dick pics he’d send; her, chatting up / several men at once and never recycling material.”
In his previous collections, Kevin Connolly didn’t deny his reliance on found text—he lifted, glossed, and annotated both direct borrowings and inspirations. The more comprehensive recycling that structures Xiphoid Process may indicate the growing influence of conceptual writing and increased use of found text across swaths of contemporary poetry. Connolly’s approach to copying, however, is less radical than recent works like Ken Babstock’s On Malice and Moez Surani’s Operations. Rather, it is a snarkier – yet more formally conservative – poet taking aim at past versions of himself by using his own work as found text.