At The National Monument / Always Today
For poet Ted Dodson, a poem is as much about its container, the image or the page or the book, as the “it” itself. Though in the case of his two poems At The National Monument and Always Today—which span three small consecutive volumes—the two are nearly synonymous. As published, the poems are an exposition of transitive structure, inter-, among, and between things, both structurally and conceptually. Inspired by a touristy snapshot of a friend—spotted on a Facebook feed—At The National Monument was written as an ode to shifting media—the medium being the message, as Marshall McLuhan would say—the page that spatializes the text, the attraction that contextualizes the tourist. Dodson’s text is expanded by blank space and near-indecipherable images, content and container twinned. As for the writing itself, these poems dwell on the interpersonal and how that relates to social and mass media, capital, and to others. People, friends, and lovers are accounted for, extinguished, then summoned back again, a virtual afterlife projected as a kind of monument. The question becomes: what is a monument, if not the medium you will it to be?
Ted Dodson is the author of An Orange (Pioneer Works / Wonder, 2021), At the National Monument / Always Today (Pioneer Works, 2016), and Pop! in Spring (Diez, 2013). His writing has been featured in Hyperallergic, BOMB, Fence, The Stinging Fly, and The Brooklyn Rail among other publications. He works for BOMB, is an editor-at-large for Futurepoem, and is a former editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter.