Dazzle Ships by Jamie Sharpe is the poet’s third published collection. I had earlier reviewed Sharpe’s Cut-up Apologetic and called it “a twisted look at today’s world, very enjoyable and recommended.” Sharpe continues this same pattern with Dazzle Ships. Dazzle Ships were a historical item. The idea was how to camouflage something like a battleship on the open sea. Obviously, the ship is too big to hide so something else must be done. By painting ship in distracting patterns the military hope to create something so distracting that it would be missed, blocked out, or simply misinterpreted.
Sharpe does the same with his poetry. Distracting the reader and hiding what is right in front of them. Unlike the war ship’s paint, a cut up method is used to achieve the same effect. The reader will see a bit of LaBron James in “Unnatural Balance.” “Before Dad’s Cookies, Papa’s Chocolate Dunk Brazilian,” tells of how a person can publish a poem in an agriculture magazine and how it’s not the same with post posting body hair theories in cookbooks… especially fondue cookbooks.
To say this collection is readable does not do it justice. Like the quote, I came across the other day, “Readable,’ like ‘drinkable,’ seems almost an insult.” Dazzle Ships provides “thinkable.” The reading is complex and not something a reader will breeze through and understand. The cut-up statements force the reader to stop and think reorganize their thoughts to see what is really in front of them.
Sharpe captures something one does not often see in the modern world. We are surrounded by automated messages. Web pages know your preferences. Alternative facts are played as news. Click bait promises something you won’t believe. Ads are played off as news. It is all right in front of us and we don’t see it unless we really look. Sharpe uses mass culture to prove his point in making his own art.