Structure of the Embryonic Rat Brain
Fence Books 2007. 80 pages. 10 poems.
"Janke is one of a very small handful of younger poets whose work manages to be both technically striking and humanly moving--there is always something miraculous about this combination, but these days it's especially heartening. I've been wishing his work would receive more attention, and am glad to see that happening now." –Franz Wright
" ...a startling approach to the prose poem and a book that must be read to appreciate the possibilities of the genre." –Bloomsbury Review March/April 2008
"In his driving and driven debut... Christopher Janke offers a breakneck vision of strained consciousness in rolling verse and prose paragraphs... " –Publisher’s Weekly online September 2007
"Christopher Janke has published a pretty book of poems. That's obvious from the cover of Structure of the Embryonic Rat Brain alone: a mauve and purple tangle of presumable neuronal matter brushed with green. Fence Books, always pleasing with its designs, has cut Janke's book wider than it is long and interspersed his poems with eye-catching doodles. If you flip the pages fast while staring at the lower right-hand corner you'll see a rat put through its paces. This book makes it clear from the beginning that it intends on giving tactile pleasure while stimulating your mind. Like those famous lab rats pressing levers for cocaine, this book wants to keep you turning its pages. Pretty continues into the poems themselves. I suspect Janke wouldn't like this word - he'd probably prefer "complex," "multi-noded," "myelin-coated," or "meiotically bold." As someone delighted by grammatical skewering, intriguing page-jumps, and the abolishment of articles though, I call them pretty. Strikingly beautiful even, if you will, as in Janke's opening words: What kind of knife? What kind of throat? What steel? Who cuts the warp? Who scissors through? Who pins the paws? What kind of pins? What color? What creature? Who slices a head? What gory miracle? What unanimated gelatinous - dead-pink & fatty. What kind slices? What kind peers? What kind slices?" –Cyan James, www.newpages.com