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Jason Bredle

Jason Bredle is the author of Smiles of the Unstoppable, Pain Fantasy, and Standing in Line for the Beast, as well as the chapbooks Class Project and A Twelve Step Guide. He lives in Chicago.

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“Jason Bredle roams like a cartoon jaguar and swims amid squid and jellyfish that can't be touched and might as well be hamsters and it's as if drifting and roaming need never end. Why doesn't he write a book about Shakespeare, or Afghanistan? The big shadow-clock keeps ticking at the end of the hall.”

– Mark Halliday, author of Keep This Forever

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Smiles of the Unstoppable

We Think It Is One Thing but It Changes to Another

02/12/12

As I carried this book around with me, reading, I heard from multiple passersby, “Gross, is that someone throwing up?” to which I replied, “No, I think it is just a kid bobbing for apples.” Their responses then were usually calm, mostly understanding, with maybe even a restatement like we are all guilty of: “Oh. I thought it was someone puking.”

This to me is reading Jason Bredle’s Smiles of the Unstoppable — we think it is one thing but it changes to another, and then another, until we start to see that evolution is the thing that Bredle is chasing down with his use of words.

from “The Song Banana”:

“Sometimes I love the song banana and sometimes the song banana
makes me completely crazy
is what I wrote on a postcard, placed in my pocket
and walked to Happy Foods
wondering what might happen
on one of those days
I’d been feeling especially lost.”

Bredle uses both line breaks as well as word choice to negate what comes before, to change objects from one line to the next, to stay ahead of the reader by steps and steps. Smiles of the Unstoppable is a mountain of these, all well-crafted and burbling, so while this effect could be awful in the wrong hands, it is fantastically resonant here. Bredle, in his third collection of poems, has an understanding of how this evolution affects us as we read — knowledge that this practice of ever-changing keeps us forward, makes us want, keeps us stooping curiously close the page.

from “Kitchen Stadium at Twilight”:

“Man, that dude looks exactly like Scott.
I mean, freakishly tall yet also short with crazy non-crazy hair
falling all over his shoulders which aren’t shoulders
but instead comets.”

Add a soft mixture of culture and lit prowess and urban-dictionary slang to this always negating, always changing, always evolving style of poetry, and Bredle has me officially on his side. I am won over by his palette, by the color of his shapes, by the accumulation of his techniques and the words within them. And I’m not even sure if it was a battle, though there is some delicious fight in Smiles of the Unstoppable, a bite and phrases to chew.

from “Poem”:

“So far we’ve been focusing on here and now,
yet not focused on here and now but there and yesterday—
a red kitchen, ceramic roosters,
gravel driveway,
basketball hoop and fence separating us from the woods.
I remember these things fondly,
but how will I remember here and now
when they become there and yesterday?”

I feel like Jason Bredle is fucking with us, just a little bit, and I kind of like it.

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