Compulsive Reader: A Review of A Miscellany of Diverse Things by Philip Kobylarz
Originally published on Compulsive Reader | Reviewed by Nicholas Woster | 2017 | A Miscellany of Diverse Things is available on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Waterstones | BAM! | Indigo ($15.95)
By Nicholas Woster
All too often human beings find themselves suck in the routine and monotony of day to day life. These ruts can be difficult to break without an outside source changing your perspective on life, even if only for a minute or two. Philip Kobylarz’s collection of poems, A Miscellany of Diverse Things, serves as one of the best paradigm shifting catalysts. Simple objects that do not demand attention can be easily over looked and taken for granted, and it the mundane and overlooked that Kobylarz chooses to point out in his writing. The first poem in the collection, “chairS,” looks in detail at the purpose and design of an average chair. Kobylarz’s charm lies in his unique observations and “no-holds-barred” style of writing. Yet, the writing is able to convey thought provoking and complex messages with very little convolution. This is because the wording of each poem reflects the care and time spent bringing the specific thought to paper.
Many of the poems in the collection challenge the identity of the object in question. A loaf of bread becomes spies wearing raincoats, soap becomes dirty, and maps become the very cause of being lost. The dichotomous nature of the writing allows one to ponder about how the identity of something changes as it finishes its assigned purpose. After being removed from a car, tires become playground floors and boat bumpers, while bread is eaten and becomes waste. Between thought provoking ideas, Kobylarz sprinkles in bits of humor and particular cleverness. These are often portrayed through one sentence poems that play off the title to illuminate the hilarity that can be found throughout life. But, the poems are not all funny and clever, some are very honest representations of human emotions. Love letters represent the pain that is felt when they are read post love, affairs become wishes, and wounds become reminders. The emotions behind the writing allow the reader to connect with the words and make them their own.
Probably the most important thing about the writing is that it flips expectations, sometimes literally. Each poem’s title is only capitalized on the last letter and spaces between parenthesis are left blank. Poetry itself is often full of lofty language and written to be purposefully difficult to understand. Due to this exaggeration of literature, it is often difficult for people to enjoy poetry as a leisurely pastime. If a reader were to open “A Miscellany of Diverse Things” and expect to find overly academic writing and confusing messages, they would be pleasantly disappointed. It is not uncommon for me, when I have a few minutes of free time, to sit somewhere quiet, open to a random page, and enjoy the quirky writing and unique perspective. The poet Marianne Moore writes that the goal of poetry is to have real frogs in imaginary gardens, and it is exactly this sentiment that Kobylarz accomplishes with his work.
In all, A Miscellany of Diverse Things is an honest depiction of the human experience, a collection of narratives that allow one to glimpse abstract thoughts, and a vacation from the monotony of daily routine.
About the reviewer: Nick Woster is a senior at Santa Clara University studying English and Psychology. He is a strong advocate for the arts, himself being involved in theatre, writing, choirs, and other performing arts. Before attending college he dedicated his life to Martial Arts, eventually earning a black belt and passing on some of his knowledge as a teacher. Currently he spends the majority of his time experiencing life to further his passion for art.
A Miscellany of Diverse Things
Surgery is not simply a medical procedure. Surgery can also be a dissection – when absent of an intent to treat and correct, the procedure becomes a hungry curiosity to examine and investigate. At its purest, a dissection intricately probes to behold the internal. Kobylarz practices this surgery of delicate incisions in his mélange. The essence of a miscellany of diverse things is not merely to catalog a wunderkammer of everyday objects, but moreover to hold up a double mirror: one to reveal the interior lives of objects, and another to reflect the depths of their creators and owners. Kobylarz’s poetry may initially elevate the mundane, but its deepest design is to ask what the human possession divulges about the human being. The quotidian isn’t only ecstatic; the quotidian is a book of revelations.
With nods to Flaubert’s Le Dictionnaire des Idées Recues and Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary, Kobylarz moves beyond a contained lexicon to a flung-open cabinet of curiosities. Encyclopedic in its compilation (more than 400 entries in this volume), A Miscellany of Diverse Things avoids the static inventory list of a storehouse to embody the world as theatre. There are no museum exhibits, with objects isolated and preserved in glass cases. Instead, Kobylarz places spotlights on the minute, under-appreciated, and even unloved. He regards common objects as pearls within the world of an oyster, but never forgets their genesis of grit and irritant. In these poems, wonder and oddity are fused as sure as Bowie lived.
Author: Philip Kobylarz
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9976943-7-6
Retail: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Waterstones | BAM! | Indigo ($15.95)
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About Philip Kobylarz
Philip Kobylarz is an itinerant teacher of the language arts and writer of fiction, journalism, poetry, book reviews, and essays. He has been a journalist, a film critic, a veterinarian’s assistant, a deliverer of furniture, and by default, an ascetic. His work appears in such publications as Paris Review, Poetry, The Best American Poetry series, Massachusetts Review, andNew American Writing. His first book, Zen-inspired poems concerning life in the south of France, is entitled rues. His second book, short stories and a novella, is titled Now Leaving Nowheresville. His book-length essay about the city of Marseille & Provence that is a response to Baudrillard’s seminal text America is forthcoming from Truth Serum Press of Adelaide, Australia. He lives ever so temporarily in the east bay of San Francisco.