by Michael McFee
Michael McFee, in The Smallest Talk, squeezes the conventions of poetry– image, rhythm, language and meaning– into the smallest possible package. These monostiches, as one-line poems are often called, are extraordinary feats of wit, as much kin to prose poems as to a comedian’s smartest lines. If comedians zing, then McFee zings darkly, with the verbal charge and resonance of longer poems. The Smallest Talk is an examination of poetic line in its barest terms, a celebration of compactness. Yet, there is a hint of narrative across these one-line poems, the implication that even as a line stands alone, it consistently speaks to its surroundings.
“Part punch line and part epigram, Michael McFee’s one-liners are knife jabs of insight and wit. Delightful and deep-felt, they are, in every sense of the word, quick–alert, agile, sharp and, most importantly, alive.” — Michael Chitwood
“Novel as it may seem, the one-line poem has long been part of our literature: Whitman planted two in Leaves of Grass. Of the form’s recent practitioners, the best include A. R. Ammons, Jonathan Williams, Fred Chappell, William Matthews, and now Michael McFee. McFee’s little poems prove outrageously funny, arrestingly sad, wise, even sublime. Small talk is forgettable; The Smallest Talk is anything but.” —Robert West
Softcover, 44 pages