Monthly Archives: May 2019

War Memorial, by Oz Hardwick

I am not a silent poet

Somewhere in the house a door is closing, and soft footsteps move in the familiar patterns of care. Last night I had that dream in which my mother was alive again, tired but lucid as she ever was. I wanted to ask her what it had been like being dead, whether it had matched her ideas of heaven, but it seemed impolite, or just a bit gauche in the circumstances. While she was alive, I don’t think either of us ever used the word gauche in conversation with each other, though, being Europeans, we could have done with impunity; so when I spoke to her in my dream I didn’t tell her about crumbling unions and rephrased passports. Your great grandmother would have voted for a pig if it had a blue rosette, she once told me, but she wouldn’t have voted for Cameron. When I woke to…

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Three poems by P.A.Levy

the curly mind linguistically innovative poetry - weird & risky

submision PA Levy_00submision PA Levy_01submision PA Levy_02submision PA Levy_03Born East London but now residing amongst the hedge mumblers of rural Suffolk, P.A.Levy has been published in many magazines, from ‘A cappella Zoo’ to ‘Zygote In My Coffee’ and stations in-between.  He is also a founding member of the Clueless Collective and can be found loitering on page corners and wearing hoodies at thecluelesscollective.blogspot.com

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Nine poems by Ndue Ukaj

I am not a silent poet

Utopia

Everything is different, in the horizon the Sun is crumbled
The crumbles remained on the earth’s heart like triumphant arrows.

We can’t recognize the colors through the wind caressing the memory
We do not read poetry in the universe of foolishness
Where relations between darkness and light
Appear just like relations between the wall and thought.

Behind is played the surprising game, just like before
Birds are falling in the ground, just like in times when hell was written,
Oh God, everything has changed,
At a time when a small fence is darkening our big eyes.

The moon finds a path through mummy hands remaining like arrows towards the sky
And the sun dissolving just like a candle through tired eyes
Who can’t see anything in the blue sky, except a small cloud
A cloud darkening everything

Therefore vision is coiled in space
Just like the wind creating its…

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Four poems by Jamie Dedes

I am not a silent poet

the century of possible peace

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,after Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the century of world wars and
into the century of “hot spots” and “conflicts,”
those isolated regions of hostility and battle, of
choreographed shows of military cliché and the
violent disaffected eruptions of the marginalized

Every day is an homage to some insanity
Media reports are conveyed with facile intensity
by hyperkinetic journalists – they deliver easy
and ominous conclusions based on seemingly
recondite facts, quickly moving to celebrity
gossip and other insipid topics . . .

I have lived in two centuries of wars
I know what it is to be exhausted by the
vain posturing of the ruling class and
the tired protestations of tribal unity and
supremacy based on accidents of birth

I know what it is to imagine peace across
the circumference of one small blue ball
in a Universe of inestimable size and…

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Zaum Is Autonomous, by Clara B. Jones

the curly mind linguistically innovative poetry - weird & risky

Feminism || ORLAN || Postmodernism→Interoperational
All Art is about women.

Käthe Kollwitz || Helen Frankenthaler || Matriarchy || Hierarchy
All Art is gendered.

Beauty || Perfection→The West [Arc]
Bell-Opticon || Bell Curve→Mathematics || Maps

Gender relations || Margo Emm || Gender dysphoria || avant garde || Formalism
All Art is [about] surveillance.

It’s hard. It’s just too hard.

Zaum || Futurism || Kruchenykh || Enchilada
All Art is [about] itself.

Excavation || Cave painting || Primitive→Hominoid

Derrida || Episteme [Green] || Okra || Pine
All Art is [about] nothing [nihilistic].

Marriage || Mother || Motherwell→Motherboard
de Kooning || Basquiat || “Woman, I, 1950-52″ || Linda Nochlin (1998)

Every love story is a horror movie.
All Art is [about] death [petit mort].

Mishima || Sadomasochism→Sword
Impermanence || Imperfection→Japan [Black] || Wabi Sabi [Beauty]

Lee Krasner || Anita Brookner→Husband
All Art is about sex.

Haraway || Cyborg…

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some time we are heroes by reuben woolley, reviewed by Mandy Pannett (Tears in the Fence, Nº 69)

stweh-cover-page-001

some time we are heroes
reuben woolley
corrupt press
ISBN: 822743-113891

The act of writing a straightforward linear review for poetry that is based on the concept of non-linear perception, experience, arrangement and form, is appropriately paradoxical and ambiguous.

some time we are heroes strikes me as a fine example of literary modernism in the way it becomes poetry for our time, poetry of the moment. There are many things I would like to comment on and illustrate in this collection – themes of silence and time, images of fire and water, alternating tones of bitterness and reflection, ambiguities of language and meaning, sound echoes and the use of white space – but first I’d like to examine the background to this genre of poetry, as it appears to me, and the part Reuben Woolley is playing in its development.

The main feature of some time we are heroes is the use of space to disrupt traditional linear and narrative structures, breaking down attempts at any sequential organisation by interrupting a reader’s usual method of processing. Fragmentation and the jolting of perceptions are not new approaches but they do lend themselves to the rapidity of twenty-first century advances in technology, particularly the ever-increasing precision of the keyboard which can indicate breath, pause, juxtaposition and sudden shifts of thought. If we are talking about poetry that is written down, then the physical surface of the page can never again be a neutral setting for text; poets from Mallarmé onwards have challenged the notion of the supremacy of black type. White space on the page offers endless possibilities for interpretation and re-thinking. Likewise, the mood of the times we are living in has come to feel increasingly fractured and dystopian. Traditional ways of thinking are rejected in favour of the broken and decaying, the discontinuous and disordered. Reuben Woolley’s poems mirror this fracturing. ‘All poetry is fragment’, says Heather McHugh.  ‘It is shaped by its breakages at every turn … it is a piece full of pieces.’

some time we are heroes, I suggest, fits perfectly into this genre with its use of space and the language of interruption and ambiguity. Words and meanings interact, shift, build into layers, collapse.  White space waits to be filled; fragments break the flow of time.  It is the poetry of surprises, shocks to perception, poetry of fragmentation which, in Claudia Rankin’s words, is a strategy ‘to keep in play as many possibles as possible.’

Ambiguity of tense plus originality of syntax is a feature of the collection’s title and certainly keeps possibilities in play. First and last poems echo this in ‘some kind of prologue’ and later with ‘some kind of epilogue’. There is no sense of a timeline and the reader is disorientated.  Other titles in the contents reflect techniques that will be used in the poems: a few are straightforward (‘notes for a dead symphony’, ‘mary writes a love letter’); some play around with shapes of words and expected meanings (‘outbloodyrageous.saying’, ‘picking it out and fulsomely’, ‘&bugger the going of it all & the fiddler too’); others are lyrical, reflective and elegiac in tone (‘here are only whales singing’, ‘in green waters bleeding’, ‘mary from a wild water crying’, ‘dust lies in shadows too’); the majority, in the style of the whole collection, are fragmentary (‘standing room only not even’, ‘these latitudes of brine & fresh’, ‘once upon & then again’).

Reuben Woolley’s whole collection quivers with this language of the incomplete and fractured. We are confused by juxtapositions such as ‘drilling holes in aspic’, the uncertainty of

‘building
bricks
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,like
wasps’ nests’

and we lose all sense of direction in ‘shadows of whales. passing’ with these lines:

 

‘&

…………………………he said

come mary
…………………………through dead masts
…………………………& sunken streets

it is my ……………water
……………………………………………….memory

……………………………………………….where

rain takes
everything’

The poem ‘mary writes a love letter’ seems to epitomise this sense of instability and incompletion:

i hold light
like sand

…………………..trickling

a galaxy

unstable’

This is poetry that sets out deliberately to smash the traditional and the linear, to break up time and confuse all sense of direction. The reader dances to ‘some tango in time’ (‘notes for a dead symphony’); in one poem ‘time came early/today’ (‘& gardens wait/patience he said’); in another piece we have ‘tomorrow’s/numbered’ ‘(storms are not lead. they stink’). In ‘underground and smiling’ we are seen as blind and ‘folded in time/&time again’.

Motifs of music and dancing recur throughout, reinforcing the concept of non-linear time. My favourite example is in ‘picking it out and fulsomely’ where we are given the image of bending a note and then holding the duration ‘ripe and ready/moving/to the fall of it/the fullness/of the breath of it’.

Underlying the collection is the theme of stories being told but in narratives that are without direction or conclusion. At the back of the reader’s  mind must be the association with the ‘Janet and John Early Reader’ books, the syntax of ‘he said, she said’, the use of simple language.  Here the adults are called john and mary and fragments of their fractured relationship thread in and out of the poems like Penelope weaving a shroud for Laertes by day and un-picking it again each night in order to confuse. The first poem ‘some kind of prologue’ sets the scene, almost like a Mummers’ play, with ‘here john/here mary’. Other allusions provide a reference to myths and tales. In the first poem again we are told ‘they came with the geese/the grey & the rose/they/danced their bones’ which seems to suggest a feeling of folk-tale; several references to ‘nothing’ remind me of Cordelia and Lear’s ‘nothing will come of nothing’; the poem ‘storms are not lead. they stink’ has a dedication to Edith Sitwell and alludes to her poem ‘Still Falls the Rain’ which  juxtaposes the war-time raids of 1940 with nails used at the crucifixion. A possible redemptive note is offered in ‘mary from a wild water crying’ which may echo the ‘green pastures’ of the 23rd psalm with the phrase ‘to lay me down’.

One of the aspects I most enjoy in Reuben Woolley’s poetry is his brilliant use of sound echoes to enhance mood. I love the ‘tick/for syncopation’ in the poem ‘& it’s saturday all the same’ and there are many others, too numerous to mention here. There is also the delight of language ambiguities in the same poem where mary comes from the high street ‘loaded’  and the reader is unsure if it’s with shopping, emotion or even a gun.

Before I finish this review I must mention the beautiful cover-image by Jan Stead which, for me, enhances the themes of silence and the pause which underlie the poems in some time we are heroes.

In connection with this I need to emphasise the perfection of craft shown by the author. Many writers focus on the idea of white space as a way of breaking with tradition and matching form even more closely to content, but I feel  Reuben Woolley comes very high in the list of poets who add something extra special.

To illustrate this I’ll end with two extracts from ‘faking all the signs’:

………………………….‘alive
he was
among sails
& white breath

………………just
time ago’

And then these lines:

 

‘she will not flame
in sight ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,again

………………………………and he
found a coin to flip
the occasion
where she
……………………………….steps out

..

I’d like to thank David Caddy, the editor of Tears in the Fence which is one of my favourite magazines and which has taught me so much. He has very generously allowwed me to republish Mandy Pannett’s brilliant review which was first published in Tears in the Fence in Issue Nº 69, Spring 2019.

The book is available from Corrupt Press:
https://www.corruptpress.com/books/stwah.shtml

The Bogger is Mimed, by Kushal Poddar

I am not a silent poet

If you imagine a tale
chronicled well
the protagonist may come alive,
God, omnipotent, and
a few thousands years later
people may kill in his name.
So you write?
..
The names written on the walls,
comrade, fade with rains.
Is it about your reign
that fire crackles,
lit with the waste of the land,
mind, shape and size of our hearts?
..
Imagine, your temples throbbing
with the summer sun, the trident
of rays seeking the resting roofs,
doves and pigeons all vaporised
to reform when the breeze cools the blaze.
..
I read your myths written
in the papers, rocks, scissors,
on those half torn pamphlets,
burnt slogans, interviews, debates.
I forget what I read, all but the gist,
and then that too- pardon me-
what was the lesson?

 Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press…

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Six poems by Mark Young

the curly mind linguistically innovative poetry - weird & risky

A line from Childish Gambino

I count each square. The use
of hemocytometer trypan blue
exclusion tells me which squares
are occupied by something other

than holographic images & which
are able to populated by house-
hold items. Vacancy is everything
in my job. I got furniture to move.

..

Two geographies:

Be’er Sheva

Back then, working out
where the miracles occurred
was an hallucinogenic night-

mare. Now every full color
44-page bible atlas has clear
plastic overlays of modern-day

cities & towns to permit a seam-
less studio-to-home experience.
It’s called adaptive immunity.

Tashkent

Was to be found hauling
his concertina up Shota
Rustaveli Street. Swallows
swept beneath his feet, in
some kind of toccata &
fugue pattern, dispensed
in the pitter patter plague
proportions that would
later come to be so well
known as the signature
intro to every performance
given by Johann Sebastian
in his…

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Four poems by Kushal Poddar

the curly mind linguistically innovative poetry - weird & risky

Crumbs On Your Metro Seat
,,
Your ex called you a whore,
although only as a metaphor-
a slap of leather on the days of tearing lace.
,,
The metro asks you
not to have a quick lunch.
Your crumbs on the seat widens their discomfort.
,,
Your ex called you last night
and apologized for calling you by mistake.
The station you alight is a Sunday clouded to loneliness.
,,
,,
,,
Paper Monster
,,
The monster lives in the papers
my father writes on my life.
,,
Come to the basement,
meet the bushy cats, asleep.
,,
In the cabinet, in the bureau
drawn by the years
,,
the life sprawls deep.
We must tip toe. We must see
,,
it from a distance so the ink
may remain blurred in
,,
the cage and sky of obscurity.
You must be curious, and I desire to show
,,

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