An Orange, Ted Dodson
“It would be too easy to say love vanished from the earth…” begins Ted Dodson’s An Orange, his thoughtful, experiential second collection of poems. It’s a provocation to which An Orange wholeheartedly responds. Dodson’s work reroutes essay, narrative, and confessionalism, detouring from criticism into bisexual desire and navigating modernity as fluently as it imagines speculative destinations for language. From the graceful realism of the opening travelogues to its final long poem, “The Language the Sky Speaks,” An Orange guides memory and affect into cosmopolitan forms: disalienating, expansive, and tonic. Ted Dodson is the author of An Orange (Pioneer Works / Wonder, 2021), At the National Monument / Always Today (Pioneer Works, 2016), and Pop! in Spring (Diez, 2013). He works for BOMB, is an editor-at-large for Futurepoem, and is a former editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter.
So we’re these creatures flooded by language we participate heavily in releasing, & releasing at & into each other, for money, for love, for basic need of contact, for justice, for fear’s own argument with shape—endless fors. Now I’m sitting in a small park unable to get too near anyone, reading Ted’s poems & reckoning with the shapes of their intimacy, the way they feel close to me—close because they’re so fluidly working through layers of pressure & pressure’s detailed incitement of recognition, musically. Pertinent & mobile, they speak to me right now, recording & rearranging ordinary impossibilities and anxieties, while operating at a speed beyond preservation (they said that). The works in An Orange tremble with the certainty trembling forces into view: “To speak gently with you / makes the whole world again / accessible for a moment.” – Anselm Berrigan
I love how Ted renders his documentary vigilance away from the ironclad to arrive at a generous poetry of citizenship. It is in this context, this thinking space, that we are invited to democratically regard everything that is put before us—seasonal anhedonia, two people staring at you from a bench outside a cafe, a list of favorite poems. An Orange values integrity over clarity, or anything as normative. It supposes that we all know how this nerve movie ends and offers a language that can "provide an antidote for any lesser dread"– Stacy Szymaszek