Else if ( )

With these part-code part-poem constructions, Chicago-based poet/programmer Cameron Decker has crafted a new way to approach the deeply human topics of family, love, memory, and our perceptions of reality. Belied by their calculated and schematic veneer, the eighteen poems in Else if ( ) pulse with a core of emotion and humor. Their subtle deployment of programming logic and language isn't a commentary on technology vs. humanity, but a mediation between the two.

30 pages, silk laminate cover
Cover art by Monica Dubray

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"Both coders and poets will find themselves unsettled by what Cameron Decker does to 'their' languages. Else if ( ) is jarring, as it should be, for those of us who are still confident that technology and the human imagination exist in independent linguistic spheres. But this is no post-human hall of language mirrors: Decker’s wild verbal play reveals a beautifully irrational warmth at the core of his intensive experimentation. Are these quirky, hyperreal poems or elaborate programming codes from an alternative, hyper-vulnerable reality? Decker’s answer comes with the sly wink that makes this book such a pleasure to read: 'Scientists invented yes and no / in the 1950s / Poets are working on maybe.'"
Tony Trigilio, author of The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

 

"Beneath (or beside) Else if ( )’s playful e.e. cummings-esque mad parentheticals and (semi) blizzard of semi-colons is a deeply-human group of poems oriented as much toward the world as to language and the self. There are mudpuppies, orioles, telephone pole-climbing grandfathers, and clever, humane lines such as, 'I like my tools metal / and my people / borrowing them.' Now and then a phrase comes across as an aphorism one might find embroidered on a pillow in hell (or limbo): 'no one wants to admit to / the amount of crying / accomplished / in a bathroom stall at work.' I love these poems for their Midwestern anarchy, their refusal (most end with a semi-colon) to end;"
Diane Seuss, author of Four-Legged Girl