(The Haunted Mask II)
PDF available free online (see link)
Ghost City Press (email@example.com)
Unpaginated (15 poems)
Mini-Review by Clara B. Jones
“(just for your information, if I make a facebook post about struggling with gender dysphoria, maybe don’t write a comment calling me ‘man’)” Margo Emm [M; Margo] on Facebook®, 7/13/2018
The purpose of this mini-review is to make readers aware of a new collection by Margo Emm (Publicity Director at Gold Wake Press) who is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting young avant garde poets writing today. They have published three books, Blueberry Lemonade (2015, Bottlecap Press), yr yr (2017, Ghost City Press), and, now, Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II), part of the Ghost City Press Summer Mini-Chapbook Series. Kevin Bertolero, Founding Editor and Publisher of Ghost City Press, informed me (via e-mail, 7/9/2018) that the primary purpose of the summer series is to introduce new and emerging writers to the public. All titles are available on the press’ website (ghostcitypress.com) at no cost, though, donations are gratefully accepted.
M; Margo’s new book is a puzzle, and I decided to submit this mini-review hoping that readers would have time to enjoy the collection’s challenges before the official end of Summer. Like many avant garde and post-modern works, however, it is not necessary to decode the text in order to appreciate it. Beginning with the collection’s title page, words and image are metaphorical and symbolic. The Pennines are both a mountain range in England and the name of a British band consisting of four young men—wearing masks in the cover photo, apparently symbolic of a character in the book, The Haunted Mask 2. After listening to a couple of songs by the band—available on YouTube—I came away with the impression that the music is somewhat mono-tonal in nature and, mostly, instrumental. The rather sonorous mood created is appropriate to the tone of many of the author’s poems in this chap, a collection of hybrid pieces composed of verbal and visual elements. As an aside, I read online that the band has donated proceeds to the mental health community, possibly, one factor drawing the author to this group. Elsewhere, I have called the writer a poet of “angst” because much of their work is a product of their dis-ease—personal experiences with anxiety, dysphoria, loss, and pain. One feature that distinguishes their work from many examples of the genre, however, is that, for the most part, they avoid self-pity and unrelieved morbidity.
In each (experimental) poem, words accompany or are superimposed upon broken concentric circles, and the texts, themselves, are often coded. Symbolically, circles may stand for wholeness or The Self. That each image of concentric circles is broken in some manner no doubt represents the writer’s sense of incompleteness or, perhaps, dislocation. The first poem is titled, “song for xan”, a character in an internet role-play game whose “mind was broken” and who was institutionalized, according to information available online. While it is not possible to determine to what degree Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II) is autobiographical, each poem conveys some sense of struggle (occasionally with humor), sometimes permitting the reader to identify with the author and to experience universal human emotions beyond the poet’s personal domain. This collection coheres, in part, because the circular symbolism is consistent throughout the chap, emphasizing, at once, incompleteness, as well as, the possibility of a more coherent and universal sentience. Should you decide to read this collection, I feel certain that you will not have wasted your time. The author is “one to watch” as they mature as a poet and transition to a more stable place in the world. For those interested in placing this collection within the wider context of experimental literature, many issues arise regarding, for example, the significance of hybrid writing, the various uses of repetition in poetry, the distinction between subject and object, as well as, the meaning of “text art.” Finally, referring to innovative poetry more generally, interested readers will find similarities between the present author’s writing and other avant garde poets, including, Gertrude Stein, Ron Padgett, Leslie Scalapino, C.D. Wright, and Myung Mi Kim.
Clara B. Jones practices writing in Silver Spring, MD (USA) and conducts research on experimental literature, as well as, radical publishing. Among other works, Clara is author of the poetry collection, /feminine nature/, published in 2017 by Gauss PDF.