Mantic Compost (Trembling Pillow Press 2022)
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“Jake Syersak has catalyzed the overdue project of thinking Surrealist intuitions about the porosity of phenomena alongside an object-oriented ontology committed to putting the human back in its humble, if pliable, place within our radically intra-dynamic ecology. Mantic Compost reveals the basic element of universal composition to be neither the atom nor anatomy, but relation, ‘whatever et cetera sows.’ As Syersak approaches the world—irrevocably from inside—all things are ambidextrous, an ‘algebra of one another,’ from a moon made of kudzu to the self as a river traversing a cricket’s skull. Wandering among gangly, sinewy lyrics and over expansive, plosive, philosophical prose, the consciousness of these five interlaced series understands that his permeable, provisional subjectivity, ‘my skin all x-ray-y,’ is engendered by the astro-bio-othernesses coursing through his veins. As history and futurity impinge on the present, “linking day to day to day to,” Syersak sings our imperiled earth, from Marañon Province to Puget Sound, with astounding drunken wonder and flat, sobering fact.”

—Andrew Zawacki

“Jake Syersak’s Mantic Compost tasks itself with composing a poetry adequate to our anxious time of pre-decomposition. Here the psyche is post-composure and the rhyme between semantic and mantic is just a declension fluffing the pillows for the no-longer-estranged bedfellows of planetary decline.”

—Magdalena Zurawski

Yield Architecture (Burnside Review Books 2018)
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Reviewed by Zack Anderson at American Microreviews
Reviewed by Kristin George Bagdanov at Colorado Review

“Jake Syersakʼs debut collection pulses with seeking exaltation, stunning inquiries into what it is to make art in the disintegrating present, refracted through ekphrastic missives to fellow artists. Part entreaty and part ode, the poetʼs call rings out to reach far-flung companions, uniting us in re-seeing the world through lament and inquiry. Syersakʼs poems listen for the silent textures, feel through the gravity that separates each from all, somehow discovering a song to show us what resists mere utterance. Yield Architecture is an echolocating cry from the future all the way back to now.”

—Joshua Marie Wilkinson

“Jake Syersak’s surprising sentences, with their often ‘elastic’ syntax and at once casual and risky comparisons, amount to a ‘series of perforations performing.’ The intention is to dissolve stuck-to-themselves forms—e.g., ‘dear architecture,’ and language itself as suited up to do business—and enjoy the freedom in the transition toward ‘castles in the air’ while avoiding the easy dodge of nonsense. ‘Toward’ and ‘from’ are frequently used fulcrums. To go from a carousel toward the ‘zero’ it describes isn’t so much to abandon architecture as to rival its effects with one’s own crafted dizziness. Syersak recreates, blows up in degree and scale, the ‘tensile ecstasy’ of a marriage of constant discourse with metaphoric wildness. He speaks of Ai Weiwei’s Bird’s Nest—that astonishing partial deconstruction of architecture, that contradiction between massy strength and perforations, that structure of holes—with authority, as one who is in his own right an inventor of a contradictory aesthetic.”

—Cal Bedient


I, Caustic (Litmus Press 2022)
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“Khaïr-Eddine’s corroded lyric I spews the detritus of autocratic narcissism in this absurdist take-down of its patriarchs: the king and his advisors, military and police officers, husbands, fathers, older brothers. In the wake of the Moroccan student and worker uprising of March 23, 1965, which emboldened both government repression and popular movements for democracy, the characters ponder the irony of revolution when everyone has co-opted its rhetoric and wonder whether the so-called dregs of society— sex-workers, abandoned children, unemployed laborers—can rise up to prevent a nuclear Arab apocalypse. Yet, from the King’s privy in Rabat to a coastal town in southern Morocco, humanity’s inhumanity is just one force of nature among so many others: what’s the point of all this trouble when you’ll end up a maggot-eaten corpse? Syersak’s energizing translation delivers into English all the poet’s acerbic humor and idiomatic exuberance. You’ll laugh so hard your inner hyena will come out. Is your blood boiling yet?”

—Teresa Villa-Ignacio

“Khaïr-Eddine’s excoriating satire of independent Morocco, written in the first decade of Hassan II’s rule, from the remove of voluntary exile in France, performs a devastating critique of the violence of the ruling class, the incompetence of government, the hypocrisy of organized religion, and the stubborn presence of police brutality, even as it fashions radically new modes of literary and poetic expression. Sometimes crude, even grotesque, often brilliantly seductive, irreligious, and funny, Jake Syersak’s bold translation into English breathes new life into this important and too-long neglected work of modern Moroccan literature.”

—Thomas C. Connolly

“With its undulating body, I, Caustic reproduces the two-pronged movement that testifies to the continuing relevance of Khaïr-Eddine’s writing: destruction and reconstruction, annihilation and regeneration, death and revival.”

—Khalid Lyamlahy

Agadir (Diálogos Press 2020)
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Reviewed by Sumayya Ahmed at MELA
Reviewed by Mahmoud Shukair at Banipal
Reviewed by Paul Cunningham at Action Books Blog
Reviewed by Phoebe Bay Carter at Kenyon Review
Reviewed by Will Cordeiro at DIAGRAM