The Duffel Bag

Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Factory Hollow Press produces limited edition books, chapbooks and broadsides.

This duffel bag is very cluttered. In his debut collection — released in a finely bound chapbook — Bloomfield eschews any formal or thematic cohesion for a random smattering of poems. The almost accidental placement of poems serves to reflect the work generally: in much of Bloomfield’s poetry surrealism and randomness rule and an obvious logic is not always present, as if the lines had arrived directly from the brain of the dreaming poet.
At its worst, Bloomfield’s poems can be excessively interior, leaving the reader with no way in. In the opener, “Fisticuffs,” the images shift awkwardly from a series of pre-licked envelopes to a dispute between baristas, without any thread to follow. These moments would be less frustrating if Bloomfield weren’t obviously talented; he is, though he often gets waylaid in obscurity, and occasionally, too, in his own preciousness (the titles “I Switched the Moon With Ham,” and “The Other Intelligentsia” say it all). Bloomfield can pull out sharp, emotive lines when he wants to, and even hitch them to a coherent, communicable idea — as in “The Farm House,” which skilfully uses the image of a relocated Civil War-era house as a vehicle to show how progress can sometimes leave people behind.
When Bloomfield gets too wrapped up in the cleverness of his poems he forgets to let anyone in, though it is clear he has fun writing them. The effect is a bit like arriving at a party and being stuck outside, having to watch the good time through a window. Which makes one wonder: if Bloomfield just wanted to party alone, why invite us at all?  (Anu Jindal)

Luke Bloomfield, 18 pgs, Factory Hollow Press, factoryhollowpress.com, $7

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