REVIEWS & CONVERSATIONS: PROFIT | PROPHET – PATRICK BLAGRAVE (RECENTER PRESS)

At what point does the exchange of our profits, lead to a more clarified understanding for the world? Blagrave’s work addresses that inquiry head on. How much debt makes up the financial contribution towards our existence/comforts? At what point do we question it? Blagrave fearlessly engages this consideration because he is aware that to do so, is to address its progression in our disregard for its implications. Profit | Prophet is not simply a body of work, but a body that exists and has debt, and is pissed because it works 60+ hours a week and still can’t afford to enjoy life after it. To this I, wholeheartedly, understand and recognize its argument. I too have an ex named Sallie Mae.

“One day I had a particularly frustrating call with my student loan vendor Sallie Mae and afterwards I sat down and started writing poems addressed to Sallie as if she were a real person in charge of my life”

Blagrave is no stranger to the personal. With full depiction of his debt status, he says this is where I stand and I stand with you. I found myself feeling resounded by his words. In numerical affirmations, readers can find symbiosis in lines like “10 hours by credit card payments. The company that pays me uses me as a vessel to move money to other companies. My wallet stays empty. For 4 days each month my work is done for me to have money to eat, drink, buy a sweater or to waste in a bank. My boss takes another trip, thinks I can live like this, that we both can” I’ve done the math as well as I can. Though a specific isolation, pieces like this address the complacency and acceptance of our financial captors. This collection (also) asks WHY IS THIS MY REALITY? Where does our effort and “funds withheld” actually go? Blagrave states: “In the countryside, million dollar homes. In the city, the same. The same people own all of them. A check for a thousand dollars sits on a polished wood table, in a spotless entryway for two weeks. Our landlords might have complicated lives, beautiful, heartbreaking relationships, like the ones in award-winning novels, we’ve been told people weep over, the kind we were taught to believe are important.” beautiful, heartbreaking relationships, and thus confronts the reality many of us wake up to like a lover. In varying styles and with historical reference, this work holds a multitude of poems that deserve mention, but I fear pinpointing is to exclude a much deserving other. I will state expressly, I have not discussed even half of the reality in which this body of work says we must consider.

“I wanted to mix things that were deeply intimate for me with sort of macro-level history and politics and economics, because they are so connected in ways that can be confusing. For example, listing my personal debts to me feels very vulnerable and private but at the same time they are just cold figures from some finance companies databases.”

While this review differs from my traditional approach, I welcome this variation without question. We must face the reality in which we stand in terms (and conditions) of the captor we simply label as debt. There are so many pieces in this work that paused, questioned and engaged me. When asked where I stand in consideration to this work, I state: I am flustered by its ability to speak to me and through me. I was given a body of work that in the first 10 pages made me say both “whew” and “damn”. If you are considering the purchase of this body of work, I simply say, at a point, you must accept a certain revelation, this collection waits for you, and has already described that space. Again, I limit my references due to the number of which I am halted by. However, if you need a moment of reassurance, start with & every time my account is empty and reserve the deserved respect for every piece included thereafter. This statement extends to the praise I will openly give its “revelation” style closing.

Purchase your copy of Profit | Prophet here

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