Temporary Obscurity
by B.Diehl and Charles Joseph
(Indigent Press)

Obviously, with two different writers coming together for a single book, the fun with Indigent Press's Temporary Obscurity is to read the whole thing in one fell swoop. The book is an interesting project on the part of Indigent Press. Given that it is listed as “INDIGENT Poets Collaborative Volume 1”, and considering how exceptionally well these poets mesh, we can only hope the press puts out additional collaborations.

There are some similarities to be found between Diehl and Joseph. Obviously. You’ll note your own interpretation of any shared expressions/thought processes/stylistic choices between the two, as you read intelligent, original poems like “Turnpike Terror” (Joseph) and “Stoner Girlfriend” (Diehl). However, the experiment on Indigent Press’ part would be a failure, if both poets breathed, roared, or smirked in the same way. B. Diehl is very distinctly his own writer with his own voice. The same can be said for Joseph, who is arguably a little more abstract and sparse than Diehl. Both writers are very keenly interested in telling stories. Diehl packs his with a surprising range of small, seemingly insignificant details, considering the relative shortness of the poems. Joseph picks and chooses very particular details, when building his narratives. The result of one poet speaking after the other is a fascinating, well-played symphony of perspectives. It never fails to work. The momentum established with each writer’s initial offering doesn’t slow down or falter in the least.

Temporary Obscurity is hardly a new idea. Yet it is a concept that represents an extremely complicated approach to what can only be described as literary mathematics. Or it could be creative chemistry. However you describe it, simply making a chapbook with two fairly dissimilar writers work so well is praiseworthy in of itself. Things get better, when you get to the end of this collection, and realize that each writer contributed something absolutely singular and essential to the project. In other words, the experiment works as an experiment, and then it works again as a worthwhile collection of eminently readable poems.

Again, we can only hope that Indigent Press puts out a few more of these collaborations. We should also take a moment to recognize that both B. Diehl and Charles Joseph could easily stand on their own in their own separate collections. They do not need one another by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not a bad thing by any means that they have come together. We are fortunate that they have.