The free verse poem vaguely hidden by his email transmission is the Squaw CEO’s masterwork to date.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Performance artist, corporate mouthpiece, serial monologist, evolutionary grammarian and internet provocateur Andy Wirth’s latest transmission to his waiting public is verily a thinly disguised free verse poem.

Wirth uses repetition and occasional rhyming along with his unique sentence structure, signature prevericated self-quoting technique and absence of consistent punctuation and traditional syntax to submerge his sentiments in a brine-like email of deft yearning for acceptance as he rejects reality with crowd-riling pseudo-fact. What we find shimmering just beneath the surface is something that can be described as a very capable and lyrical verse in 16 five-line stanzas.

Wirth’s latest work takes the sculptural oyster shell of a corporate jargon-laced transmission—itself a haphazard if not lugubrious leg stretch of distortion (under the clever guise of presenting the truth) and on the stratified surface shifts blame to public entities and consumer desires. The parent transmission itself on face value seems to possess no end and no inherent reason for being. But to unearth the prose within, to release the meat of the fruit surrounding the seed, is a payoff so rich and intense one can’t help but admire Wirth’s true intent as he tiptoes near the threshold of masterclass.

As for the exhumed poem, though there is no specific rhyme scheme in the offing, “Atmospheric Rivers” contains several internal rhymes and it is bound together by the buoyancy of sound and meaning and repetition. While the verse features a distinct absence of consistent iambic rhythm there are some lines that lift the poem (and the reader) past the mundane, if not ringing, opaqueness of the source material.

Make no mistake, the reader is put to work by Wirth. But like anyone who has ever panned for gold in the Squaw CEO’s adopted Sierra foothills, sifting through the sands of surface blame and the mire of misguided wordplay creates an overall more weighty and hard-earned prize.

There is also some minor trickery that lesser scribes would not be able to pull off. An example: The separation in the ninth stanza of the speaker of the poem and Wirth himself is the work’s reflection of its own hidden self with the original email. The brazen creation of the fictional persona of someone else speaking about him, to him and then him adding another significant layer by quoting that different persona about him to him—is, in clearer parlance—the wordplay equivalent of staring at oneself in adjacent mirrors creating an endless you effect.

A more amateur effort at this kind of high-wire act may be lost on the reader, but Wirth acts as a North Star, his deft navigation shows us that not everything he writes is something he personally believes, nor should it be believable.

This, of course, is important in not only inspecting this offering but in examining this poem’s place the context of his entire canon. His constant effort to look inward while peering out is hardly a reductive effort or mere confession, nor is it a simple wink to the knowing reader. More simply put, his latest may be a nod toward introspection and his own cry for release from his outer identity and the isolation of constant, unfiltered misinformation thanks to the shackles of corporate slavery.

Critics of Wirth’s previous works note he sometimes throws technical-sounding malaprops or assigns false meanings to words or buries them in fragment phrases, perhaps to keep the reader on his toes, or perhaps just to be playful. What’s striking to me is the almost militaristic tone in the seventh and eighth stanzas juxtaposed with his contemplative reflections of the moment he wrote this poem as it comes to a plaintive yet strangely pleasing yet terse conclusion.

One unorthodox method Wirth employs become almost commonplace to the point of being his own signature is use of “air quotes.” He knows a benefit of using free verse to communicate complicated corporate and civic matters is to be able to freely employ this “tactic” to make the verse more of a memoir, giving the people a “glimpse” into his actual travails.

The “It” owns “Him” in other words.

Indeed, much of the subject matter is depressing, if not sinister, though he cannot help but break from the bleakness in the theme: A hope for a future we know too well to be uncertain but somehow contains a kernel of hope, exclamation point. Is he toying with our suspicions or does he really see, like a mystic, a better day approaching?

The rigors of time may not be kind of all of Wirth’s work, especially his choice to employ the above stated exclamation point (!) at will. Many scholars seem to be unable to get past his methods in punctuation as he fervently and predictably insists upon destroying convention with them.

And yet, once we catch our breath, we realize the whole conceit is not only against the grain of critics and the public outcry he faces daily, but flies in the face of traditional norms in grammar, structure and syntax. Language is a river, tumbling over rocks, smoothing out over time, gurgling and bubbling to new tributaries. Isn’t that what we call progress? Isn’t that, after all, the way to push boundaries!

Here then, we invite you to explore for yourself Mr. Wirth’s latest masterwork:

“Atmospheric Rivers”

By Andy Wirth

Challenges this historic winter presented
The season and its challenges.
Historical and meteorological context
Committed to taking immediate action
The region as a whole outside of our control.

Many feet of snow fall
As you likely know.
One for the record books.
We’ve received more snow
— than any other season.

Intense weather
Will have us skiing on July 4th
We haven’t deviated.
Improvements both immediately
And in the weeks and months ahead.

Today I seek to update
The progress we made rising above the din.
I believe, as I’m sure you do as well, exclamation point!
Our mountains more quickly on storm days.

Reclaiming the parking. We’ve lost
Snow storage, without compromising, intense focus
On safety: The region known for big snow storms. High winds. Snowfall.
Remarkably and uniquely fierce.
(At least nine) “Atmospheric rivers.” Winds that accompany them.

Havoc around the globe.
A remarkably consistent circumstance — as you might imagine.
Situation is extremely unique
We can’t
Control the wind.

Snow control devices
(called Gazex)
Rapidly expanding deployment
Surface hazards. Post-sunset and pre-sunrise; time frames where the federal regulatory
Don’t allow. Deployment.

Bringing yet another tool
Able to fly
DaisyBells and ObellX
Without compromising all critical safety coefficient. Team.

Demand from all the markets. Congestion of the roads.
Eric, the son of the founder:
“Andy, don’t let anyone try to convince you.”
“That you developed the traffic jam here in North Lake Tahoe.”
I took only brief solace from those words.

We are two to three years out from other solutions
We’re getting more focus, traction and attention
The last mountain community in the western US
However, (However!) we’re getting there.

The deployment of Chariot
High tech and contemporary
“Micro-mass transit”
Beta test

“Second lane”
“intra valley”
“micro-mass transit”
Release and video
Three-laning on ingress. “Second lane.”

High occupancy levels (HOV)
Circumstance by way of gridlocked roads and blocked parking lots.
Civic entities are responsible for infrastructure; I think we would all agree.
We’re seeing advancement on this matter
I don’t think we’ve seen in generations. We will not yield.

The ability to park
Despite herculean efforts
Ultimately, store this record snowfall.
It’s tough to gain permanent ground
Not being satisfied.

New York City
“Snow melter”
12 miles away
Our legendary mountains.

A 48 year hiatus.
Come join us
Celebrate our heritage
Be inspired

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.