Blot Lit Reviews: Introvert/Extrovert by Russell Jaffe
Introvert/Extrovert, Russell Jaffe
Punk Hostage Press, 2015
Reviewed by Kayla Greenwell
Put on your dang moon boots, because Jaffe’s Introvert/Extrovert is going to take you on a mother-F’in ride!! This poetry collection uses the strange and brilliant mixture of code switching, emotional imagery, and “keyboard smashing,” in what I can only describe as experimental existentialism. Jaffe deals with large and difficult questions in this piece, and his juxtaposition to these challenging insights with the ultra-casual manner of speaking that people have only recently adopted creates a darkly humorous and poignant adventure into twenty-first century existence.
The collection is split into two sections, and the poems are not titled. This definitely doesn’t cause any problems with reading it. Initially, I circled the pages where the poems began, but I discovered that Extrovert has multiple poems, where Introvert only has one. I discovered that and the poems in Extrovert can stand together on their own, but they can also be read together like a single longer poem like introvert.
Extrovert questions the transience of our daily realities and Jaffe critiques the parts of life that we find so important now. He continually poses the question, “Will that thing we care so much about now even matter?” Jaffe’s poetry puts perspective on our daily existence, and critiques the ruts we find ourselves in or the small obsessions we create for ourselves. For example:
Kiss me if not for anything but my need to know. I need to know
It won’t all go away.
O let’s get marry’d and do everything together.
So that one day our children might inherit our tongu’d out
Lineage of strip mall
Mine fields. And syndicate’d TV shows beaming into space the
Funny random mortal lack. My knowing need beyond the infinite
Numbere’d online caption’d pictures that might remind me
Of what I’m supposed to be doing on earth or my laptop et al.
No I am not difficult to love
I LIKE CAN’T EVEN DEAL W THE PATRIARCY RIGHT
NOW. I’M LIKE SO UPSET ABOUT IT…
The code-switching you see at the end of this quote is something that Jaffe continually does throughout the collection. Language is how we express ourselves, and it is something that is also constantly transforming—just like whatever we find important or necessary in life. Jaffe reflects on this by changing spellings (the ‘d in the past tense “ed” and the w instead of with) and adding phrases written in a casual tone that has only recently begun to exist.
Like how the moon needs to be just where it is from Earth.
Otherwise O fuck.
You know the kind of people who really get off on marriage
And the rules.
From crying again dear lover mom and dad I’m really sorry
I’m gonnna be okay…
…On this final night while I slept a
Centiped cral’d across my face and laid eggs in the waxing
Cresent of my eye.
Splatter pain the human’s place in the universe
TOTES FOR REAL. I flot my finger across the keyboard…
His message mixed with phrases like “totes for real,” and “NSFW” and “Yeuh Right,” only serve to drive his point further.
Introvert/Extrovert is like owning a tiger. It’s majestic and you’re in awe, but owning it will change you (and is probably dangerous). The imagery and emotion that Russell Jaffe elicits in his work is cutting, and it will make you reflect on your daily choices. Do you really care about what you think you need? I mean, like Jaffe says, “askaj?ndnacehnbchjgcdfvfrmxfvkmskusu439di88g738f,xghcdekfx,gch5f48d3fex78edh832judwzzadaesnsad3.”