The Occasional Tables by Scott Bentley

Scott Bentley Occasional Tables

ISBN-13: 978-0966630374
Published January 2000
Available at and

Remarkable intricacies of intelligence are at play in Scott Bentley’s wonderful new book.

— Lyn Hejinian

Scott Bentley is loud and clear and on fire cumulatively. Now we all get to sit down together.

— Lee Ann Brown


An efflorescence of avant-garde forms sprinkles these 37 people-and-place-specific” cracked love notes. Acrostics enter and depart, poems appear in serial bursts and then blossom into prose. But as with the forerunners of alternative pop music, from Elvis Costello to Sonic Youth, structural innovation and lyric derangement are always at the service of exuberant youthful communicationAsly, maybe; ironic, often. From poem to poem, Bentley can move from kittenish flirtation (“if you’d let me, say, warm hands on the cheek of your charm”) to awed resolve (“to wake, startled, over your celestial body/ a voice thus rushes in softness/ and in hush, avows, what a weak word/ love”). Shadowing the breathless sanctity of his intentions is the saucy chuckle of his wordplay, reliant on a game of visual and aural linguistic Twister. Common phrases, expected turns, words themselves and spellings are reblocked to quell their commonality and add little purrs and whirls to what could have become a maudlin brace of letters home. “Shank” is an update of Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons,” an open season on the sexuality of the culinary, whose implied narrator has turned from Sappho to Julia ChildAwhat was introverted and implicit here becomes giddily over the top. “U.S. 101” (subtitled “a prayer for America”) dips into mock stump speech: “One nation, under guns, invisible/ machines that liberate the individual/ of every measure to survive” until Bentley’s irrepressible comic self-effacement rears its welcome rear: “The time is now to form a nucleus of active reactors, activating paradigms that continually create forums for exhaust and diatribe.” Throughout, Bentley’s speakers fiddle successfully with the rabbit ears of the poem of address, bringing us clear pictures and glorious static.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.