Dan Kaplan is the author of 2.4.18 (Spuyten Duyvil, April 2023), an erasure of the February 4, 2018 issue of The New York Times; Instant Killer Wig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018); Bill’s Formal Complaint (The National Poetry Review Press, 2008); and the bilingual chapbook SKIN (Red Hydra Press, 2005). His work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, VOLT, Denver Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Poetry Northwest, the anthology Flash Fiction Forward (W. W. Norton & Co.), and elsewhere. He is editor of Burnside Review Press and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Spuyten Duyvil, April 2023
In these radiant destabilizations of language, Dan Kaplan’s 2.4.18 sizzles within the lineage of extraction books like Annie Dillard’s Mornings Like This, Mary Ruefle’s A Little White Shadow, and Srikanth Reddy’s Voyager. Pivoting on language strangeness—from “sun-roasted” to “snow brief”—Kaplan’s erasures shift and surprise, asking us to “re-see” text and its multi-layered meanings. The poems’ sonic laddering keeps rippling outward into the vividness of “blue coastal fields” and “two parrots printed in red ink” to the kinesis of “the wave was starting / at the house party.” Kaplan’s book is the brilliant oddball at the party who shows up donned in a “costume of bubbles” inquiring about the “geometry of a wing.” It’s the person you keep conversing with long after the party’s over.
This book begs many questions. What is a poetic voice? Is it a cut-up sensibility? Does it try to salvage a random day of reportage from oblivion? Is 2.4.18 as promising as any other day? What is news that stays news in our Anthropocene? Please then, every lyrical consideration for these momentary stays against confusion.
I recommend this book to anyone who reads the news, or simply scrolls through it, as I do most mornings, seeking glimmers of hope among the ruins. Line after lean and loaded line, these poems remind me that even within the most rigidly codified form of public discourse, “it’s possible to live in a basic field of wow.”
Instant Killer Wig
Spuyten Duyvil, 2018
As I was reading Instant Killer Wig, the thought occurred to me that the book might simply—"poof"—disappear in my hands, because the poems got into my head—the way they shape shift through all the angles of uncertainty while seeking stasis in a time when the world is literally melting away underneath us. Our shapes and figures will never be united, if we want to be honest about it, and that's what these poems are: honest—yet at the same time, open to the beautiful, dissembling present moment, like looking at a vase full of flowers, knowing that they're both here and already gone. That's what makes them so beautiful.
—Jennifer L. Knox
Dan Kaplan's gustatory Instant Killer Wig gusts along. His deft touch endears. Each convivial page taps the shoulder, steers the elbow, lands—conspirator, reader—along your ear. Finely observed, Kaplan kills off the old creative writing saw. Weren't you born a writer when you learned to show not tell? Yet the grandest writers possess the courage to tell us how things are. And Kaplan's capgun is positively popping with wisdom's and witticism's flowers.
Bill's Formal Complaint
The National Poetry Review Press, 2008
In Dan Kaplan’s provocative new book, Bill’s Formal Complaint, we encounter American neo-surrealism at its finest in the form of Bill, the quirky representative of our privileged discontent with living. Bill immediately takes us everywhere and nowhere, flaunting his eponymous history, then leading us breathlessly into the netherworld of dream and the accidental beauties of miscommunication, only to escort us out of it with the same uncertainty....We can almost hear the ghost of Miroslav Holub, the great Czech poet, whispering from Pilsen a possible preface to this book: "Mummy, come here, there’s a dead devil—" but what follows is the story only Bill can tell.
A chicken in orbit, an armless orchestra, all manner of objects wobbly and surreal, dire and dear, inhabit this haggard landscape of non-stop linguistic playfulness that flickeringly translates into Bill, or Billness, or Billessence—a life-like postmodern everyman whose languagey bits coalesce long enough to give voice to this unforgettable complaint. What a funny, crafty, wise, warm, virtuosic debut!
Red Hydra Press, 2005
Letterpress, bilingual chapbook produced by book artist Steve Miller in collaboration with artist Julio César Peña Peralta and translator Maria Vargas.
MAGS & HAPPENINGS
6.4.23: Powell's City of Books, Portland, OR, at 2 pm. With Bill Carty and Jae Nichelle.
OTHER EVENTS TBA SOON!
5.13.23: Mother Foucault's Bookshop, Portland, OR, at 7 pm. With Mary Rechner and Patrick Dundon.
3.10.23: AWP Offsite Reading with Spuyten Duyvil Press. The Pine Box, Seattle, WA.
3.10.23: AWP Offsite Reading with Saturnalia Books, Letter Machine Editions, Black Ocean, Barrow Street Press, and Burnside Review Press. Seattle Beer Company, Seattle, WA.
9.4.18: KGB Bar, New York, NY.
4.22.18: Powell's City of Books, Portland, OR.
3.31.18: Open Books: A Poem Emporium, Seattle, WA.
3.9.18: Mother Foucault's Bookshop, Portland, OR.
Poem at Poetry Northwest
Review of Instant Killer Wig at Pleiades
Poem at Verse Daily
Poem at Paperbag
Another poem at Paperbag
Another poem at Paperbag
Another poem at Paperbag
Poem at Matter
Another poem at Matter
Interview at Entropy about Burnside Review Press
Other Poems Online
Black Warrior Review (online)
42 Miles Press
Poems Also Published in
American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Bateau, Copper Nickel, Denver Quarterly, Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton & Co.), Forklift Ohio, Indiana Review, The Laurel Review, Meridian, Mid-American Review, The National Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, NOÖ Journal, Octopus, POOL, Quarterly West, Salt Hill, Spinning Jenny, Third Coast, VOLT, Washington Square, West Branch, etc.