A Surreal Voyage Into Verse History: A Review of Marc Zegans’s “La Commedia Sotterranea della Macchina da Scrivere”

Like an archeologist unearthing the Dead Sea Scrolls, you must dive into poet and spoken word artist Marc Zegans’s latest volume with a combination of excitement, curiosity and WTF-ness (because surely he can’t be serious and indeed he is not). Unlike some of Zegans’ earlier work—the magical love poems of The Book of Clouds, the gritty coming-of-age memories of Boys in the Woods and the often playful but sometimes brutal realities of romance in The Underwater TypewriterLa Commedia Sotterranea della Macchina da Scrivere (or, the Typewriter Underground, for those of us who don’t read Italian) is quite the hodgepodge of inventive genealogy, nonsense assembled in seriously well-executed poetic forms, literary in-jokes, and hilarious characters—the members of the Salon du Claques—with monikers like Prolixity Ferris and Glatt Ratner, worthy of a Restoration drama. “If you are confused, we are delighted, and vice versa,” says the brief volume’s participant, editor and trashcan-filching archivist, one Swizzle Felt, in the “Table of Fragments.” Prepare to be both.

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