by Ben Doller (ne Doyle)
When I think about Doller’s work, I think about an extremely thick word play and a comedic level that isn’t matched by most serious, academic poets. I think about how shirt functions in FAQ. I think about how nautical language twists in Dead Ahead. In these books the reader is hit over the head by a club of sound, intelligence, and confidence that doesn’t exist in Doller’s debut collection, a collection that existed before “Ben Doller” even did. This isn’t a bad thing.
I am shocked into subtly by Radio, Radio. All the fixings of Ben Doller are present, but act through a filter which today I’d say was a fear of untying himself onto the page. I don’t blame him. He needed to be tied down, gagged, fearful of himself in order to produce such a strong collection. The most striking moments are those when he tries to revolt and introduce the reader to who he is today: “Hollowing. Hello, thing. Hell, lathing. Howlingly singing holes.” This same poem, “Tug,” ends with tragic comedy
So what are you going to be?—A ghost.I stole a white sheet from the line.Leaves were stuck to it, I’llPunch some holes in it, I’llJump from the balconiesOf bleached buildings.
I love Ben Doyle, but I’m happy he is how he is now.
—A Minetta Gould