The Purpose Pitch is most effective when its snarky drollery yields depressingly comprehensive insights. Take, for example, statements such as “the English teacher is not a credible source because she wants to kill herself,” or exhortations to “World” such as “I’m sure you’ve racked up a pretty pension. If you don’t like your job anymore, just quit.” Yet while Mockler’s previous collections didn’t always add a formal wallop to her directness, here her multivalent candour uses the prosaic to advantage. In “Poetry—You’re Popular, Okay,” an assault on the proudly embattled genre, strings of monosyllables mark the poet’s complexes as especially banal and petty: “Don’t get your nose so out of joint all the time . . . One day you might have a street named after you.”
Mockler’s use of found text also works in tandem with her darker themes. “April 30-May 31, 2014” consists of eleven pages of police alerts relating to sexual assault. The sequence resembles the infamous fourth section of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, but the inclusion of Canadian localities (as well as the very need to reiterate the prevalence of violence against women) enhances the repulsive power of Bolaño’s precedent. Mockler also brings patterns out of her raw data. After dozens of alerts that begin with constructions such as “A WOMAN WAS” or “POLICE SAY,” two entries on the final page begin, “A 22-YEAR-OLD TORONTO MAN IS FACING” and “A TEENAGER HAS BEEN ARRESTED,” respectively; one realizes at this point that only four of the sixty-seven entries have implicated the perpetrators by marking them as initial grammatical subjects. Whether it’s employing this kind of stricter conceptualism or just strafing sharp lyrical insights with ready-made phrases, The Purpose Pitch consistently makes the case that it is Mockler’s strongest work.