[…] While most of us are accustomed to reading short bits of text these days (140 characters, anyone?), many are nonetheless unaccustomed to the pace and attention required by the short bits of text that make up most poetry. Consequently, some poets are finding innovative methods to trip up the reader and demand a more considered interaction with the text. Fortner Anderson’s Solitary Pleasures is as much an art book as a poetry book, and haphazard typeface is the approach it uses to slow down the reader. Designer Fabrizio Gilardino has stamped each page by hand, letter by letter, using different font sizes and letter cases. He then altered the text digitally to create or preserve the appearance of errors and edits. The resulting text is impossible to scan like conventional printing. It must be studied and is, in fact, a bit hard on the eyes. Its unevenness mimics handwriting, making the words more like images, forcing us, almost like new readers, to proceed slowly and meticulously.
The poems themselves, taken from Anderson’s 2004 daybook, chronicle the mundanity of daily life, punctuated by moments of clarity, awe, or lament. “I did seventy five crunche / nude / before breakfast,” begins the entry from July 19th. Later the same day, the speaker and a friend discuss how one can never know the mind “and must remain / content / with an evershifting vantage / as we look into from the shadows / which we longingly call / ourselves.” There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure in these poems; they fittingly feel like reading someone’s diary, and part of the drive to keep reading is the promise of discovery. That promise doesn’t always pay off, but here that unevenness feels immediate and true. (…)