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Source Codes is a collection about how we represent the world to ourselves and to each other in an era when the images and words we receive are often generated and received without being marked by even a trace of author or consumer. The poems are linked one to the next only by the words that begin and end each; otherwise, there is no stylistic or (on a specific level) thematic connection. They function, then as a “miscellany,” an approximation of the paradoxical finitude in the rush of information and images we believe we experience, hour by hour.
The poems and images are not titled except by numbers, by which the reader navigates a key to their sources in the table of contents.
“In the fast flow of capital, we need slow space,” and “Information is dark, not light,” the Dutch design group, NL.Design, writes, and in similar spirit, Source Codes is not neutral in intent. Its appendices – HTML code framed by typescript and longhand drafts of poems from this book and poems from the author’s first book, Bag ‘o’ Diamonds – attempt to highlight the idiosyncratic imprint of an individual in the drafting of the HTML. Intended, likewise, is the loss of some authorial romance in the typescript poems and handwritten notes without their losing that quality of like imprint.
Many of the individual poems and images seem to treat a bridge – between the homogenous plethora emitting from the fast flow of capital and the individual gesture from within “slow space” – skeptically, and gravely. In this sense, too, it is not a neutral book.
‘Despite high-tech concerns and quips that place her within the interests of Charles Bernstein in his loopy “Nude Formalist” mode, Wheeler’s “sources” in this third book seem equally drawn from the allusive grand style of the Bishop/Lowell/Berryman line. Formally dazzling and spiritually unforgiving, this is an important, limit-testing book.’ —Publishers Weekly
‘Part of the project of Wheeler’s book is to turn the type itself into object (a thing which always happens, of course, but it is not always part of the awareness of the poet) which is read separately, perhaps, from the language … and this is part of the larger project of contemporary poetry generally, to return attention to the … extensivity of language into space, into physical therefore delicate and dangerous and temporary existence.’ —Bin Ramke, American Letters and Commentary #13
‘Wheeler skirts along the troubled borders where virtual reality and Robert Lowell’s Maine lobster town vie for our central geographic tropes, and where the “self” is invariably a node in a cluster of rhizomatic meanings or enmeshed in an aging, none-too-pretty (but lyrical) body. In any case, Source Codes is one of the few books of poetry that truly synthesizes, even exhausts, the range of techniques that the 20th century provided for American lyric verse.’ —Brian Kim Stefans, www.alienated.com
‘Perhaps Louis Zukofsky’s paradign of poetry as “lower limit speech” and “upper limit music” described the best of Wheeler’s poetry, as it hears the “lower limit” mechanics of culture sing, and carries meaning outside of logical – or even describable – argument. This seems to be the unifying element in all of Wheeler’s poetry, this desire to state things while being unable to trust things long enough to have a saying hold. And perhaps then, more positively, moving through this skepticism to a place where saying, again, can be possible.’ —John Gallaher, Chicago Review