That That (Made in Michigan Writers) (Paperback)
Wayne State University Press, 9780814340653, 80pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Poet Ken Mikolowski ran a letterpress printing house for over thirty years, setting poems by hand, one letter at a time-an experience that influenced his love of short verse. In "That That, "Mikolowski presents his trademark quirky, humorous, and insightful poems, none longer than three brief lines and some made up of only two or three carefully chosen words. Together, these poems create a narrative of life and love broken down to the most minimal of forms.
Mikolowski's deceptively simple collection takes readers on a whirlwind tour through weighty topics and humorous vignettes. He reflects on the nature of art, identity, and legacy in poems that muse in their entirety, "I've never met a deadline / I've ever met yet" and "Why I am not a New York poet / Detroit." Mikolowski also gives unparalleled assessments of serious subjects like love, aging, and death, declaring, "Sometimes / I don't think of you / for hours" and "Getting old / gets old / real quick." Some poems are more lighthearted and delight only in the wordplay of rhyme or unexpected imagery, adding an unmistakably playful element to this spare but polished volume.
Mikolowski's collection demonstrates the singular power of language in the hands of a master craftsman. "That That "will be read and re-read by anyone interested in short poetry.