thilleman’s poems are playful and intellectual—a mirror of all the synapses, misfirings and disconnects that take place during the process of juggling two or three or more thoughts in the air at one time. It would be easy to say he is simply the latest offspring of a modernist/post-modernist tradition that began with Stein and Pound and continued up through Olson and Duncan, a tradition that encouraged getting lost as the way to discovering the hidden meaning of anything but Thilleman’s modus operandi is impossible to pin down, a surviving force amid the endless detritus and debris of the past who happens to be alive at this peculiar all-or-nothing moment.
I picked up Improviso yesterday and could not put it down. What a marvelous feat! Fantastic the way thilleman excised, isolated images & impressions that link together with virtually no syntax whatsoever yet manage to create a compelling narrative. It has that same kind of forward-spinning propulsion Thomas Wolfe and Kerouac were so good at. When I finally put it down I felt like I had just come out of a movie theater after a very gripping, moving film. Totally captivating. It’s about so many things: New York and art and writing and music and creativity and “coming of age” and, last but not least, it’s a love story with a somewhat tragic spin.
The immensity, breadth and dexterity of three markations is not to be missed. If you can handle the over 600 pages, you will have climbed a mountaintop overlooking the maelstrom of the 21st century. Herein lies a network of thought branching out, congealing, exploding, suspended in time like a large photograph.
Evan Reynolds, American Book Review
Driven by its combination of fierce lingual play and political realism, the poems of Thilleman’s Aura Lifetime document our age of global crisis (planetary, geo-political, cultural) through its impassioned critique of those “deadened contexts” of thought and action that signal the death of human care.
In Snailhorn (fragments) thilleman presents a speaker seeing themselves in pieces, the fragments of an archeology of humanity, in shapes defined by history, shuffled by spirits. We are both matter and mother to matter, dust and mud, spliced shells filled with water, overflowing. Telling the epic of humanity in what is left behind in the trail of history ...
Toad Suck Review
Thilleman has a music all his own, sometimes lyrical, sometimes dissonant; pretty consistently surprising. I'll admit "root-cellar" always sets me thinking of WCW's "cat" poem – you know, the one with the jam-closet & so forth. But Root-Cellar is very un-Williamsesque: more an assertion – nay, a demonstration – that ruminative, considerative poetry is still possible. You've got to admire Thilleman's ability to leap from the jars in the cellar to the meaning of life; and it doesn't at all hurt that the poem to my ear's shot through with echoes of Briggflatts.
... suspension of linguistic meaning that verges toward music, a mid magnetic between meaning and resonance that touches on both only to veer off, return, whirl to a stop and begin again ... there is a liberating aspect to hearing or reading a poem that eludes signification only to capture it soon enough ... with echoes or Samuel Greenberg and Hart Crane ...
No single note can contain or describe this work, nor is there a quiet sameness which will lull one beyond question. Instead there is a composed concentration in the center of calamitous movement—movement which embodies inquiry, which listens as a means of locomotion, transferring setting to sound, venturing out along many circumstances.
Thilleman began to attract attention with his sequence collection Wave-Run and has continued to mine secrets and depths inherent in language, but often ignored. The magic of words—that they have lives of their own beyond their obvious power to communicate information .... Between continues that process, informed by his conductus, the Daemon. It is a great privilege to have been allowed to follow the quest.
Zukofsky tells us that those without greek can still pick up the sound of the sea—and know that it is the sea—from hearing Homer’s language. Those who sound the language of Thilleman’s Wave-Run may at first feel submerged in a foreign language only to arrive at a later—and deeper, more alive—realization of English and of a different sea. “Cupped, cupped coiling wave contains/somewhere line’s form’s language.” The same is true vice versa.
In The Corybantes he continues with a longer and more definitive book using longer stanzas if one uses that word anymore. I don't and he doesn't either. Please read him yourself. You will find "are you reading my mind," "no one honors cultivated silence," "raising his consciousness to the status of Being." Do not be left behind.
Reminiscent of dream theory which instantiates a fragment of selfness in each dream-element, or of the other theory which has the most recent waking electromagnetic brain stimulation locate the dream-content literally by tissue-territory ... Thilleman’s disarming rhetorical theatrics, a hilarity of anxiety ... are moved along by a rhythm-as-ideation/emanation mode which formally links the non-lyric philosophical Elizabethan / Jacobean argument poem with the ultra-contemporary “personal documentary” film essay.
The waverings, flurries, gaps and gusts of phrases, by turns recondite and plain, harsh and eloquent, compose a deeply credible kind of spiritual music, appropriately broken, but alive with despair and exaltation. Thilleman pushes composition to the brink of what is, and words are still there, and the promise of things hidden ...