The perfume of the abyss by Mark Young Reviewed by Clara B. Jones

mark young in melbourne 3 small (1)

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The perfume of the abyss
Mark Young
2019
Moria Books
76 pp
$12.95 (lulu.com)

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones

“[Surrealism is] psychic automatism in its pure state…dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” André Breton

Graduate student: Hi, professor.

Professor: Welcome back! Is anything wrong? You sounded breathless over the phone.

GS: I imagine so—i am excited but, also, concerned. I think I have found a thesis topic but am not sure that you will approve.

P: Ah! You’ve been struggling with this since last semester—what have you come up with?

GS: Well, my partner and I went to Berlin on holiday and stayed in the boutique hotel, Hommage à Magritte…

P: …interesting, sounds like fun!

GS: It was! And, I came across a book in the hotel bookstore that I think might allow me to explore the French Symbolist movement! The author is an Australian, Mark Young, a poet and editor, and his collection, The perfume of the abyss, gave me a lot of ideas for research. The book’s title is the title of one of Magritte’s paintings.

P: Oh! I read his brilliant vispo volume, les échiquiers effrontés, last year. I believe he is a student of Surrealism, not, Symbolism, though the two movements are related. “…effrontés” was inspired by Marcel Duchamp. What about “…abyss?”

GS: Magritte, of course, though, the book is heavily coded and there are direct or indirect references to many other artists—writers and painters, mostly, and their works.

P: What topic have you considered? Surrealism began in the 1920s, after World War I, and was influential until the mid 1960s. That is a lot to cover in a Master’s thesis, don’t you think?

GS: Well, yes, and no. I want to use Young’s symbolism to explore its contribution to the themes of the unconscious, dreams, and reality throughout the history of contemporary art.

P: Ummm, that is very ambitious. You will need to condense your ideas to something manageable for a 1-year project. How about limiting yourself to the relationship between Surrealism’s view of the unconscious and reality as Young interprets it in his new book?

GS: Yes, that sounds like a good plan. Where should I start?

P: I would suggest that you begin with the French writer, Guillaume Apollinaire, who influenced the poet, André Breton, the primary developer of Surrealism. A Belgian Marxist, Breton was closely associated with Magritte and  others, several of whom combined a commitment to radical politics with dedication to their creative work.

GS: Do you consider Young to be a Surrealist—what would that mean, anyway?

P: You will be the expert on those questions when you receive your degree. However, based upon my reading, you will want to explore several “devices” used by Surrealists. Perhaps, the most important is “automatic writing” produced by the unconscious rather than the conscious. Breton admonished his associates to, “Just write!” Also…

GS: …Young practices “automatic writing!” Listen to this! “This piece is / a note on this piece. / She found it unicorned inside the / hiding-place of those animals / that did not make it onto the Ark.” or, “…every guitarist, / at some point, has / their sound modified / by a distortion gen- / erated by an area / of machine learning.”

P: Yes! You’ve got the idea! Another characteristic of the Surrealists is “juxtaposition”—the unexpected grouping of opposing or unrelated things creating the absurd. Young employed juxtaposition frequently in “…effrontés.” Surrealists, also…

GS: …Young relies on juxtaposition quite a bit in “…abyss.” For example, “’real maple syrup / shows promise in protecting brain / health,’ when combined with the / original concepts of kindergartens, / reflect a truth in human development.” or, “In no particular / order, raindrops keep / falling from the ceil- / ing, a candle halos / but provides no light.” The poet, also, includes several vispo poems in “…abyss,” juxtaposing words and images.

P: Good! Depending upon how heavily you want to rely on critics, Marjorie Perloff has much to say about “collage poetry” and juxtaposition. I am very fond of her comment, “Each element in the collage has a kind of double function: it refers to an external reality even as its compositional thrust is to undercut the very referentiality it seems to assert.” Here, Perloff seems in sync with the Surrealists, suggesting an inherent contradiction in the practice of certain avant garde compositions. You will, also, want to keep in mind that the Surrealists saw their project as a transformational one, not only to change what we think of as Art, but, also, to change society. Thus, the group around Breton created a revolutionary, collective imagination that he termed, “exquisite corpse.”

GS: In “…abyss,” Young does not speak of a revolutionary community per se, though some of his poems are political and bring to mind psychosocial transformations, especially, as they may relate to the ideas of Sigmund Freud. One of Magritte’s paintings is titled, “The Pleasure Principle,” after Freud’s famous text, and the apple is symbolic throughout Magritte’s work, as well as, Young’s poems.

P: Ummm, Young employed repetition in “…effrontés,” also, though the Surrealists did not emphasize this device. You will want to identify Young’s own “voice” as it is similar to but, also, different from, the ideas set forth in Breton’s 1924 manifesto. We will have an opportunity to discuss your project as it unfolds. Your research will reveal other characteristics of Surrealist works, such, as the tendency to draw upon other cultures, the use of uncanny images, and “doubling” whereby an artist’s rendering is not the “thing itself.” The most important concept to keep in mind as you proceed is that the Surrealists were reimagining Art, artists, and society as a whole. You might want to begin writing with the question: What is the relationship between individual and social liberation and freedom? And, of course, you will consider all of Surrealism’s features as they relate directly to “…abyss” and to Young’s style.

GS: Thank you; this has been a productive session for me; I am relieved and can’t wait to get started! See you at our next meeting!

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Clara B. Jones, a woman of color, is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other writings, she is author of Poems for Rachel Dolezal (Gauss PDF, 2019).

 

pink maggit by M; Margo; Review by Clara B. Jones

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pink maggit
M; Margo [Margo Emm: photograph]
2019
Ghost City Press Summer Series
Unpaginated [12 pp]
Free PDF @ ghostcitypress.com [donations accepted]

Short Review by Clara B. Jones

 

“I tell them that the tricks of today are the truths of tomorrow.” Marcel Duchamp

I am an autodidact when it pertains to learning about the arts, criticism, and literary theory. In order to “get” what experimental poetry is about, i have had to read widely in the fields of experimental & innovative literature, Modernism, as well as, Post-modernism. M; Margo [Margo Emm] is an experimental poet, musician, Facebook personality, and editor whose career I have followed for several years. Having reviewed their books, it seems clear that each volume serves both psychological and literary purposes. Many of their poems address Margo’s ongoing experiences with “gender dysphoria,” and I have categorized them as a writer of “angst,” as a master of dark, not always humorous, wit. Whether you have read their work or are new to it, you will discover that their compositions rarely devolve to the levels of self-pity, nihilism, or narcissism. On the contrary, Margo’s semi-confessional pieces depict an artist in the process of confronting life bravely and realistically—in all of its dimensions and complexity. Indeed, their texts blur the distinctions between life and art.

Exploring the realms of the personal and interior, however, is not the only, or, perhaps, the primary, reason to read Margo’s body of work which displays the poet’s significant facility with combinatorial “language games” [Wittgenstein] and word play. Margo is a master of the coded “collage” poem. One can spend hours attempting to decode their texts, demonstrating that even experimental poetry can satisfy at least some Formalist criteria, in this case, “interpretive power” [Helen Vendler]. The hidden messages are not only intellectually and psychologically stimulating but, also, serve to establish a relationship with each reader. These poems also meet a high standard of “imagery,” each a visual as well as a verbal composition.

Such challenges begin with the name of the new chapbook—pink maggit, title of a song by the metal band, Deftones, whose music is classified as “nu metal” or “rap rock.” Based upon an internet source, “the  song is meant to be triumphant,” describing a bullied “kid” implored to “become the leader of [their] surroundings.” “If you are confident you can do whatever you want.” Based upon my reading of Margo’s body of work, I would speculate that they identify with the subject of the song, and their Facebook feed provides a record of their journey toward holistic health. “Change (in the house of flies),” poem three of this new eight-poem collection, is, also, the title of a Deftones song that, according to a description on the internet, is “metaphorical,” “spawned” from a young man “being a complete asshole and getting the complete repercussion for it by having [his] life taken away.” This composition entails a conventional innovative poem superimposed upon a greytone pastiche of words. The poem begins, “staring @twitter when / a canadian soldier flies / towards my laptop screen, ….” Whether or not this song applies literally to Margo, it may express certain anxieties about their vulnerability openly shared on Facebook and in their written work.

The pieces in pink maggit are “collage” poems, a technique that can be traced back to the Italian Futurist poet, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti [1909: “words in freedom”] and to the Dadaist poet, Tristan Tzara [1920: “cut-up poetry”]. In the poetry critic, Marjorie Perloff’s, words, “Each element in the collage has a kind of double function: it refers to an external reality even as its compositional thrust is to undercut the very referentiality it seems to assert.” Thus, collage compositions are crafted by juxtapositions of relations between elements, and Margo employs this device throughout the new pamphlet, assembling words and phrases in a variety of conformations or superimposing typical innovative poems upon a pastiche of terms—generally, the same term repeated over and over within each poem, sometimes arranged symbolically, such as composition four, “Minerva,” displaying four circles surrounding an erased square, elements of the circles spelling out, “I am not a woman.”

While some of Margo’s collections appear rigorously rule-governed [see, for example, his 2019 full-length book, road road road road road, ma press, Finland], the poems in pink maggit seem less controlled, though they  remain intentionally crafted. While, unlike the Dadaists, Margo’s new chapbook is not overtly anti-establishment or “anti-art,” this work disrupts, and, sometimes, ridicules, the criteria, form, and content associated with mainstream literature, in particular, via their poems’ distrust of unity and coherence—no center or narrative, each element standing on its own with repetition emphasizing the importance and significance of each poem’s elements. I encourage potential readers of pink maggit, and other collections by Margo, to view their work within a tradition of American avant garde poets who precede them [e.g., T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Susan Howe, Ted Berrigan]. Margo deserves a wide audience and, in my opinion, is among the best experimental poets of their generation.

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Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other works, she is author of Poems for Rachel Dolezal [GaussPDF, 2019]. Clara, also, conducts research on experimental literature, radical publishing, as well as, art and technology.

The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by Emily Martin, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

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Emily Martin
The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink
2019
Gauss PDF
http://dl.gauss-pdf.com/GPDF275-EM-TTOTSATTOTR.pdf

Unpaginated (16 pp)

 

Crosshind
Hinging outward and then turning in
Is it not a return to order
I will turn toward
I will not be able to help it
Passive voice as dream logic
Exaltation

Emily Martin (2019)

Many articles and books have been written in an attempt to describe and define “experimental” poetry. Victor Shklovsky’s 1917 manifesto, “Art as Technique,” remains one of the most influential statements on the subject. In his brief essay, the Russian Formalist stated, “The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult….” Emily Martin’s long-form “collage” poem, The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink, is a worthy example of Shklovsky’s ideal. This young writer and teacher, living in Brooklyn, employs words, phrases, and sentences in juxtaposition to one another, generally, without necessary regard for formal, logical, or grammatical rules.

As a result, the chapbook provides a pastiche of images, rhythms, and “strange” formulations whose interpretation is wholly in the reader’s control. However, one cannot conclude that Martin’s elements are random events or that her “devices” are unintentional. In the epigraph to this review, for example, she employs more than one linguistic convention. In particular, Martin rarely uses punctuation, suggesting that the sentence or sentence-fragment, is incomplete or, perhaps, that some words have been erased. Further, she often capitalizes the first letter of the first word of fragments, as the Modernists, Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery, usually did, seemingly equalizing each line—even, one-word lines—relative to one another.

On the other hand, Martin varies her forms, sometimes composing in a traditional format and, at other times, featuring innovations, such as, white spaces and prose poems. Her language, however, never deviates from the experimental—in grapheme, morpheme, grammar, and syntax—conventions evident in the following segments:

 

A prairie, a scrim, a sliding door
Filling up footprints in the snow
I mean the decay of the mutual happiness of lovers
And the day returned as usual, in tears, and ready for the performance
And once again, the performance took place
The confessional text demands a judgment from the reader
Preface: Bibliographical…
……………………….. Metrical: Yes I I remember well our meeting,
When first thou dawnedst on my sight,
Jhttrotmrtion: Critical
…………….1. POETIC IDEAL.
at the acting of a Booth. Such art is of the highest, and is reached only through one
road:

…and, several pages later, Martin writes,…
Winter bedroom
Forest by the railroad tracks
Puberty of grief
And then set out the frosting cake
……………………..I really like looking at your vacation pics
Hunting lodge
Preservation game
…………………….What do you like to do for fun?
Curing, smoking, salting, keeping alive
A hole burnt through the center of the frame
Crepe and uncrepe
Four grandparents in a bed
Lay a cupped hand on top of one another
You are a weeping stone
The thin dog becomes the road

 

Repetition, a device often associated with the Modernist poet, Gertrude Stein, is apparent within each fragment [“performance”], as well as, between them [“road”], though the segments are separated by a few pages in the text. The use of “white space” provides, not only, visual appeal, design, and complexity, but may, also, indicate erasure or may slow the pace of spoken or silent reading. Collage has its origins in Modernist visual art [Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism]; thus, it follows that, in collage poetry, the representation of words on the page should be important to the writer, as they clearly are to Martin. Related to visual effect, Tristan Tzara spoke of a “cutup” writing style which Martin honors as indicated by the poem’s cover page reproducing a collage painting.

Speaking of “collage” poetry in 1998, critic, Marjorie Perloff, pointed out that, though it may appear otherwise, a “collage” composition may display “logical relations among elements,” such as, similarity, equivalence, dissimilarity, inequality, grouping, or association. Each of these features, binding the parts into a whole, can be found in The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink by readers open to the surprises, novelties, rewards, and lessons of innovative writing. In Emily Martin’s new chapbook, “strange” devices and compositions provide exciting aesthetic experiences via emotion, sensation, image, and thought. I look forward to following this young poet’s career as she matures and expands her practice.

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Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Her chapbook, Poems for Rachel Dolezal, was published in 2019 by Gauss PDF.

The Word Factory: a miscellany by Mark Young, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

The Word Factory: a miscellany
Mark Young
2018
gradient books (Finland)
Available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/gradientbooks

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones taking a journey on the path of experimental book reviewing…

“There exists no science of word creation” Velimir Khlebnikov

Author: Mark Young is an internationally recognized writer and publisher of the poetry journal, Otoliths, who has produced dozens of books and has been featured in jacket2 and by the Poetry Foundation. He lives in Australia.

What is The Word Factory about? From the author: “A strange mix, a miscellany as the subtitle says. Some pieces written during & about the George W. Bush presidency; the Allegrezza translations; prose works that investigate the landscape where the writing takes place; poems that don’t fit elsewhere. All put together to try & hold up a night sky, to give it faint stars & distant constellations.”

Formal structure:

Arrangement: various textual forms in four parts—

  1. “Bush Tucker”: “Because he had experienced neither, President Bush confused the word/poetry and poverty./He said:/Many in our country do not know the pain of poetry, but we can listen/to those who do.” (p 16)
  2. “some translations by Umberto Allegrezza”: “Alexander/came and Tyre fell; &/later on the Greeks,/rats gnawing away/at what was left.” (p 33)
  3. “Odds and Sods”: “tomorrow/i begin my/studies to/become a/transplant surgeon/the day/after that/i take my/finals exam/it’s a series/of multiple/choice/questions—/much easier/for the/tutors to/mark—” (p 53)
  4. “The Word Factory”: “At 1.27 p.m. a directive comes down from Management. The remainder of/the afternoon will be spent putting together a new word, two words/actually, both without n, to build up stocks for the projected rush on them./I finish off my shift using my dots to complete the exclamation marks that/our Marketing people believe will be a much in demand accessory to/accompany Global Catastrophe.” (p 67)

Features: form (various textual forms); content/theme/subject (various); meter/rhyme (various, including, improvisational, free verse); style (playful, eclectic, innovative; stabilizing & destabilizing at the same time); technique (“defamiliarization”; “Art as device for making strange”: Viktor Shklovsky)

Poetic sub-genres: conventional (p 17); vispo (p 45); erasure (p 47); prose (p 50); mixed (p 51); list (p 63); flash fiction (p 82)

Theories behind text: Modernism, PoMo

Conclusion: Read this book if you want to know the mystery of a shooting star or of a treasure hunt through enchanted forests of entities both autonomous and whole embedded in real and imagined worlds. This noteworthy book is a happening. Go along for the ride. It is a unique and worthy experience.

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Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA.

Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II). by M; Margo. A mini-review by Clara B. Jones

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M; Margo
Pennine Hillsongs
(The Haunted Mask II)
PDF available free online (see link)
2018
Ghost City Press (ghostcitypress@gmail.com)
Unpaginated (15 poems)

https://ghostcitypress.com/2018-summer-microchap-series/pennine-hillsongs-the-haunted-mask-ii

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.

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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.

yr yr by Matt Margo, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

yr yr
Matt Margo
2017
Ghost City Press
29 pp
Free to download with or without donation

 

 

It is difficult to characterize “experimental” or “avant-garde” poetry definitively. However, it is widely accepted that these forms break with conventional practices. Matt Margo is a recognized promoter of experimental poetry as a writer and Editor of two poetry journals and as Publicity Director for Gold Wake Press. They describe themselves simply as “a person who writes,” though their identity is, also, defined by use of non-binary pronouns and non-gendered creative work. Margo’s 2015 poetry collection Blueberry Lemonade, established them as a prominent young poet of “angst,” addressing trauma and neurotic impulses. Rather than being a collection about the interior self, however, yr yr‘s poems position the writer in relation to language. Their poem, “sea,” exhibits the form of pieces throughout the chapbook, words or phrases separated by various graphemes unique to each composition. Titles are short, single words—“animal,” “craft,” “killer,” “whale,” “mind[less],” “arts.” Each word or phrase might be considered an element to itself, and, in a post-modern sense, meaning or interpretation is, for the most part, surrendered to the reader.

 

sea

sample of mint leaf ÷ matrix equation ÷ the end of the season

÷ relatively peaceful ÷ a raised stone basement ÷ beyond the

clouds ÷ performance and precision ÷ the science of human

history ÷ seen to be sympathetic ÷ this pathway is

suppressed ÷ boob tube inanities ÷ wrecked off the coast ÷

completely in lowercase ÷ eternal dream ÷ group stage ÷

coach of the dragonflies ÷ superparticular ÷ all animals be

stunned ÷ the variegated pink ÷ determiner of shoe sizes

 

“sea,” and the other compositions in yr yr, can be understood as true examples of minimalist “collage poetry,” and, if we are not to consider these poems as random collections of words and phrases, we must assume that they are intentionally positioned, perhaps, via the writer’s process of free-association. Whatever the derivation of these pieces, they are Rorschach-like, and, if not intended for diagnosis, are intended to provide pleasure and non-representational fantasy. Sometimes, poems contain references to titles, such as the phrases, “in the hydrostatic equilibrium” and “a sudden change in the atmosphere,” in the piece titled, “fog.”

The poems, “futures” and “transient” contain the phrases, “opus of chaos” and “state of chaos,” respectively, possibly hinting at Margo’s view of themself in an uncertain world. On the other hand, they may find comfort in “a universal human language,” an element of the poem, “logic,” and reminiscent of Noam Chomsky’s formulations about “deep grammar.” In the poem, “gazelle,” one phrase highlights “pure poetic fantasy,” that may be a coded message about how the writer perceives their collection. Similarly, in the poem, “winter,” they embed the phrase, “derivation is uncertain,” within a poem whose elements are otherwise [seemingly] unrelated. However, in at least one poem, “red”, Margo includes the phrase, “form follows function,” an element linking the compositions, and the writer’s view of them, to serious critical scholarship, in this case, about the writings as a whole.

However yr yr may, or may not, be connected to the mainstream literary scene, all poetry is fiction and cannot be completely realistic—though we may want to believe otherwise. With this collection, Margo has transitioned from a type of literal interiorization to poems that increase the distance between writing and reader. yr yr reveals Margo’s aesthetic authority. They have seemingly moved beyond personal conflicts to address the contradictions, ambiguities, and complexities of adult life. I highly recommend this collection to any reader interested in ambitious and mostly successful examples of contemporary Experimental Poetry by a young writer, and I eagerly anticipate their future work.

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Aad de Gids on “Longshadowfall” by Michael Mc Aloran

Michael McAloran’s “longshadowfall” Editions du Cygne (2017)

sunken is the ship with readers, the ship of readership, inbetween the poetic prozaic streaming which Michael McAloran (hereafter “Mick”) virtuosely does; sunken am I inmidst the succinct as bleak, pure poetic ‘da stream’ of endless wordparures in which meaning threatens, meaning threatens to emerge and does emerge,about our modern,postmodern, postpostmodern world, always prepostcataclysmic as we’re always inbetween the one disaster happened and the following initialising. what Mick does is lending this “meaning” a river while also render the very notion of “meaning” a discutable but probably more acutely, despicable status. people need to attach “meaning”, patches of meaning to the world, to life, to death, (adorno:) “[impossible] after Auschwitz”, and it is now the question if this assertion, this very assuredness with which we think we can add meaning to this processual world, is in its whole, to say the least, questionable. in these last eight, perhaps nine years I know Mick he has evolved not but has evolved enormously. I would say his artistry has the same intensity but he has succeeded to sharpen his knives. it is the mystique of McAloran to represent this great Irish lineage of Irish writers, these edgy, escatological writers, yet necessarily and of course due to the generational phaseology, irreversibly radicalises both as celebrate as annihilate them. it is what our generation do for a living. parricide, maternicide de luxe, we have thrived on our (most extreme) litterature ancestry while we face these, well, horrid times now. it was obvious that after Wittgensteins “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, Sartres “L’être et le Néant”, Gertrude Steins “The Making of Americans”, Marguerite Duras’s “L’Amant” and “Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein”, Samuel Becketts “The Endgame” and “Waiting for Godot”, and further the litterati Céline, Cioran “de l’Inconvénience d’être Née”, Celan, Musil, Thomas Bernhard, Adornos “Negative Dialektik” and “AEsthetische Theorie” and Horkheimer-Adornos “Dialektik der Aufklärung”, Susan Sontag, Germaine Greer etc., etc. who were all iconoclasts in extremis, we had to do a fine job in articulating, accelerating, igniting them. then also the french poststructuralists who had gradually and not so gradually bashed all notions we were ever familiar with and landed Freud-Nietzsche-Marx in the trashcan. but a generation has risen and came up to the task. of them, Mick is one and it is in his superexact poetic acribic lemmata (as in an encyclopedia) in this book (and others before) he captures the landscape-psychoscape mistings of psychotic sociuses and inframental arches of insanity and psychiatric abberations (in antipsychiatry still the apt way to respond to these accreted hypersocieties (Basaglia, Szasz, Foudraine, Laing, Fromm, Lacan, Cooper) ) in shards of individuals, often either dead, roaming around the dead, browsing along death, a precise mappology of the noir necropolises of our time. part of the intensity of Micks poetry lies in the fact that he doesn’t write a tourist guide to Palermos’ or Paris’s “catacombes” but demasks them as societal and very much in our scope now, as we see it in the street, cities, in our houses, in our fucking lives. as I am “reading” his latest book “Longshadowfall” it is not convential reading. it is as if the poetry prose (divisionisms we have already let fallen like a ton of bricks in the ‘80s) resists itself against reading while, when one comes within the impetus of da stream, figments of wordlineage, repetitive allitterative wordglueings, hypnotically phraseology are beginning to intoxicate you. this goes further than any complexisised postconventionalism: it is that and, the transcendence of it. we’re also the facebookgeneration poets postflarf a kind of NY “Die Collector Scum” anticollective yet transdimensional fringist fuckist movement always in to write mirrorly as it is at the same time exposure of “what it is now”. Mick, me, David Mclean, Greg Podmore, Carolyn Srygly-Moore, Ryan Link Ralston, Jacques Andervilliers, Linwood Jones, Christine Murray, Reuben Woolley, Lisa Gordon, AC Evans, Dom Gabrielli, Thamyris Jones, Tara Birch, Lee Kwo, Carrie Ann Warner, Margarite Zaatara d’Arsinoë et al et al. this is the flowing mist of authors emerging up out of the ocean of facebook. without forming a “school” I guess we “let the world speak” in 1000 styles and perhaps with similar (not the same) experiences. that Mick’s writing isn’t without personal reverberances as also reminesces shall be evident for all who dive in the intensely written often achingly scorching as strangely alluring “fine poetry styles” yet without the usual corewords: flowers are made of flesh where surprisingly Mick, these flowers, Rafflesia, grow in the Malaysian jungle. (to B ct’ued) (and with superfluous citations)

with these, to an accumulative point mere listings of words, the delivery of the message happens more in a tactile as an a priori communicative way while this perfunctory chosen series of lemmata expresses precisely that function of “linguistic communication”: in the illustration that it is idle. not that we have here a text formulated without the utmost precision and deliberately used placement of each word in the chosen ensemble. to a degree that it is almost unbearable the language is mastered and using our hard, strange habitualisation to insert meaning into read words we either succeed not or we succeed halfly in while we’re already urged to read on. this is a book best to be savored with two pages at a time also because one can barely know where one’s at when closed halfway on a page. I now laid a marker at the place where I still read: the toilet as we say in Europe as in the AngloSaxonWorld they say:”bathroom”. it is there I’ve been told men read their “man/uals”, newspapers and well, poetic and prosaic tractates. this is nowhere to be meant that this is “toiletmaterial” or to use a word Mick often used in earlier texts: “pissoir”, “abattoir”, etc. but it is ironically there we still find the rest and concentration to meet texts in a relatively calm environment and can squeeze the most meaning out of those written considerations. now they are all that but not of mme.de Pompadour in the Trianon here, for instance we see these hued, painterly and haughtily imperative possibilities of what has been written in the repeated “what” at the end, as one imagines uttered in all indifference able to have been mustered. and it is precisely this quality that make these texts “of the time”. here we have pinpointed descriptions of athmospheres willfully also broken off as to not deliver your average “scientifically overaccurate redundant” info; the “information” precisely is much more of “what there is” uttered as if in a smokey jazzclub or “what it is” in the gritty flatfelted porncinema. we’re loaded in the night and what the fuck is your destination if I may care? “listings” amass there where promising initiate messageforming grow out of the text and as if decided in the writing suddenly breaks off or change direction, if need be brusquely. there is still another way the texts in longshadowfall are getting the “disinformationist” treatment, as in their place beneath the arche of abstrahation on a scale of dense abstraction towards on the other side where Mick sits “in the zone” and whole areas get infected with this quality of what is a “rant”, “description”, “mappology”, “athmospheric floating”, “radicalisation” while the real radicalisation still is the strange evenness with which this all is “curated” and in its overall promptness present a tome of masterly new Irish as global, postBrexit and extra [=out of] Brexit litterature of bleak times and affirmation, punk.

[longshadowfall3 litterary tactics] there are still other tricks with which [Mick] shall be aimed at a tapering of languages’ directional urge to hostage us within clusters of meaning undesired or totally inaccurate yet forcefed by litterary petit mals of penitentiary tendencies and inframetalinguistic cryptic iconology. Mick tricks in the language itself using unforeseen tropes and counterclusters. one strategy is to break a quasi-sentence at erratic places breaking the build up semantic threat using syntactic brusque, punk slashes unstrategically so: strategically, in anti-esthetics which enriches his poetry. within an impetus one reads a thread to be surprised by a sudden halt after the slash of which a whole other clouded topic is charred. slowly this counterhabitualisation by the reader builds up to take what it takes to read this ongoing da stream with wariness and conspiricist microcriminology. this is writing in our time that, writing is disabled in writing and as I always have maintained Wittgenstein and Adorno didn’t formulated oppositionally positioned adages with [“worüber mann nicht sprechen könst soll mann schweigen”] and (A) [“das unaussprechliche söllte mann versuchen auszudrücken”]. hybridisation and postironic complexisation are from this time and they unite these adages while as PTSDs these statuses now became accurate and prepostcataclysmic syndromologies. never and nowhere to reach a crowning of a creationist Disney utensil. inmidst (“en milieu”) of the “what there is” (Peggy Lee) we start to write and aim not at an aim anymore bc there has been raucous decades with projection to a no/future and it is here we find ourselves on the mosaic of maps Borghesian as Rothkoan as Sanchezuan the ennui, of these resp.writer painter as couturier a secret regulative of esthetics of the upstart of a new millenium. yet also from these ombré shades of artistry layers shall be shedded while Micks poetry leaves a trail of difficult to track landscaping letterant/sing and almost a sinojaponese conveying into “cups of characters” tomes of life brandishing in their achingly acuitry. the “characters” are placed in loose clusters not always safest housed to commit to science, poetology, readerreception, bookeconomy, in fact fucking up all these instances with a certain ease, “je ne sais quoi”. one of my drives with writing was always the hope someone would be outraged with it; Mick can also be sure of that. still a bit about the asiatic impulse of Micks “iconology” and “iconoclast charactergroupings theory” which, form mistings, clouds, liquids of dark tenure (like the parfum of nasomotto “black afghano” and yes it smells like) with sometimes some torn lightshards as if seen from inside a cloyster. Irish this, English and European.brexitist undeniability to touch old hearts of yonder and hides of jaundice. so the slipt in asiaticity obscures further toothpaste white reception and comedy figure sincere politics or terrorism. no religiousness here. David (McL) is pleased with this and so are we. it is also a litterature of unbearable openness falling apart together with the wordlemmata as ruins the roaming of which can prove satisfactorily rainy and grassy with bony finds and forensic sondations. the cups of sinojapanese “characters” shall read as Mick writes: “them”, “journey”, “into”, “unto”, “not”, “ashen”, hereby lending the listing (Linnaeus) an open quasi taoist zen inconclusiveness, the one word/character/icon/paintbrush partly harming the next or specifically soften what already is decayedly soft. then I also saw a tactic which can be an editorial factor as well as an anti-esthetic factor the evidence of misspelt words but I have a feeling that to leave them in was Micks choice and it is a good one bc the radical unconventionality gets quadrupled with this. as Bas has made photos without a filmroll on purpose or exhibited in a dark room where none could be seen. a painting was painted of a city and then pollock, baselitz, kiefer, beuyslike totally overpainted with dense and destructive scrollings, lines criss cross completely obscuring the city underneath it was the time of the baader-meinhoff, londonderry, dublin, el salvador, vietnam, LA riots. that, a litterature (or artform) should take radical stance with the art itself becoming inintelligible (and with this, intelligible bc it is the mirroring of what the fuck is happening), is quite the rage or, not. that facebook provides podium, stage for letterings and imaginings still disturbing enough to acquaint no readership nor reception of presented images harbors a sign of the times. in short history of facebookparticipation all has changed and nothing has changed. cybernetics and internet are becoming more and more vehicles to scabrous advertisement yet to take it ALL in is what they think they wanted as well as the negation of what they stand for. Baudrillard: [“if all is power, there is no power”]

One Moon One Baby by Dan Raphael

Babies too big in the moon with mom tattooing gps across skin-time in ancient script

to identify, indemnify against a transposed background of architecture

archaeologizing vases we cant make yet, teeth biting through wire with persistent questions

as charging arguments extol the raisin rain, extra virgin rain, rain we don’t want

talking to the car ready to find a road like caramel anchovies stirred in milk

without animal origin—milk from magazines, milk from hoofless mountains

 

An oaken chest now my chest not drawers but pigeon holes switching places

a mechanized 3D chess board without kings or bishops; with botanists, lawyers and djs,

we don’t know how the pieces move, when the board unfolds, gps for gypsys

where motor homes solar winds turn a field into a market—

market intelligence, market humor, i subscribe with a genome, the interest is mutation

 

We’ll be out of bread tomorrow when the bakery’s on sabbatical, when the day doesn’t change

just because of night when nothing closes. we sleep in our work places careful not to drift

onto conveyors, into robot tentacles suggesting three elbows per limb, spherical wrists

so i can write on my own hand piercing the flesh with solder so bright and promising:

give us this day our daily voltage, resistance defines character, i won’t leap till i can glide

 

Ask the moon questions and watch its eyes, lost like craters, dust instead of tears escapes

before evaporating all the structural members beneath the eons of paint, detritus,

almosts & maybes. the technology to take a picture in the same place once a month

for a thousand years, incompatible with our viewers–rampant compression, pixel elations,

something fresh for breakfast with the wings too milk-damp to more than buzz & shimmer.

 

The challenge of vertical, coffee like magma, soil receiving seeds encrypting their own tails

as the sun chases its off-spring moon enrapt with long-leashed freedom breaking away the bucket

we were saving to shower when the sun gets so naked even our bones begin to sweat—

we couldn’t touch ourselves, hand slipping through, fingers like ripe fruit the flies volunteer

to flesh us, the mosquitoes ready to change our fluids & vacuum our interiors for 19.99

 

Who would want a baby they couldn’t name, a baby we had to change countries to live with,

have a tongue transplant to learn the language programmed in the baby’s third eye,

baby running before it could hold a fork, refusing to wear any color but black,

only drinking when its underwater, baby who won’t sleep when the moon’s above

no matter how intense the cloud cover or daylight, how deep we bury the baby

in concentric libraries as the whole village tells their stories the baby transcribes

in overcooked cereal transforming the torrent of post-industrial formula into sculptural gardens

we run through ecstatically shredding our skin with the multi-barbed stamens

of the baby’s galactic tear-down and remodel—if you lived in this baby you’d be where now,

behind the wheel of this one-owner baby still under warranty, Stevie singing

“maybe your baby’s done/  made some/  other plans,”

the moon staying full just to see who’ll show up—electrician,  demolition,

bill collector, midwife. moon shunting all the sun throws to ignite its own cherry center

to release this adolescent star massaging the earth with ripe gravitic fingers

How Look by Dan Raphael

In breathing

…………………….while permeable

unequal pressure

….giant lung terminal where everyone begins

usually stripping

…………………………extra packages to deliver

exhaling galaxies into timelessness

……………i’ll never get back

new eyes,   new tensors,   more sleeves than arms

 

From some views i’m just a shimmer

not here enough, theoretical bones

this quantum transparency, only one

as if the wind can’t feel me

my inhales and exhales never more than a couple inches away

illusion of ventilation, illusion of room

……i’m never anywhere

but the space i appear to occupy

………………..in one eye and out a nostril

 

The only differences among doors are how much i have to duck

& how dark is it

………………………..how quick can i find a switch

no turning around as i’m always in the open

as seen from space our whole world is inside

…………….a question of concentricities

of how far the arm of my eyes can stretch through

never panoramic, nothing peripheral

 

Where checking my e-mail every 5 minutes

could prevent me getting what i’m looking for

clarifying of the unknown

………some doors i pass, some doors pass by me,

have handles i cant perceive or work, handles that could shock,  divert,

make me remember what didn’t happen

i see that as clearly as if it was tomorrow

 

Heart instantly accelerates from never to always and back again

body chill for no reason.  darkness at noon

one sun sets while another rises, several still in bed

neptune’s been off line for weeks

……………………introspective astronomy

………….macro-biology

………………………………………………………..all today at once

the coin flips me

Hollywood Forever by Harmony Holiday; reviewed by Clara B. Jones

Hollywood Forever
Harmony Holiday
2017
Fence Books
Albany, NY
Unpaginated
$17.95

AAA_Harmony

“Are you beginning to feel that bleeding could be reciprocal?” Harmony Holiday (2017)

 

The poet and cultural theorist, Fred Moten, has devoted many years to developing a black aesthetics promoting “improvization” as the conceptual framework of black Art. Beyond aesthetics and philosophy, Moten has attempted to integrate Art and radical politics relative to the black diaspora. Moten’s subjects belong to a tradition of black avant garde work and black cultural nationalism, including, but not limited to, the overt anger reflected in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s (e.g., Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni). In his 2003 book, In The Break, Moten adopts an epistemological perspective  to investigate the relationships between radical black critique, lyrics, and performance. An academic and scholar, Moten’s analysis draws upon semiotics, deconstruction, critical theory, radical history, and psychoanalysis in order to demonstrate the fundamental import of improvization to black aesthetics and Art. An extension of Moten’s ideas is the notion that black politics and black aesthetics are united in service to self-determination and freedom from oppression.

 

Harmony Holiday’s poetry glorifies improvization as a mechanism for coping with pain. Her writing is often raw and depressing, as if her craft is a method of expiation and therapy. Holiday’s work can be placed in an avant garde genre of radical publishing whereby innovation (“improvization”) represents a personal good or a good in itself. Unlike Moten’s agenda, however, Holiday’s improvization seems cloistered, personal, and anti-intellectual rather than social and political. Holiday is sharing her demons, as shown most clearly in her 2011 book, Negro League Baseball (Motherwell Press). The daughter of jazz great, Jimmy Holiday, the poet’s words verge on randomness, as if reality is almost too painful to face (“…The tenuous scent of/one lit on purpose is different than that of one that senses some superfluous earth then,    hurry up and light.”; “My father was Jimmy, dad/was weeping so frankly it came like gazing had”; “And every time I fall in love, what television, another obituary, I am three, trying to tell psychology about/psychology….”). Negro League Baseball seems to scream that the world doesn’t make sense, that it is chaotic. There is lots of babbling—baby-talk, perhaps; each poem seems like a crie de coeur—somewhat crazed though not completely out of linguistic control (“The things we know are rigged giddy, pornographic/the already things—jigjig, slow-slow/”; “Then one disappears in the forward and we have become somebody—“). The 2011 collection reveals the poet’s experience; life is improvized like jazz…like her late, haunting father’s chosen way of being.

 

Holiday’s new book, Hollywood Forever, is a compilation of text art—language superimposed upon text in the form of racist posters derived, apparently, from the 1940s as well as upon photographs of various known and unknown figures from black entertainment and political domains. Again, jazz features prominently in this collection, though this book links the personal, social, and political in more overt ways than in the 2011 volume—signs of nascent insight (“I’ve come here to lash out/I’ve come to reclaim my tenderness”; “There is this ambivalence that I must deal with/How do I deal with it—how?”; “I begged you/to come in/the costume/of a dead/American hero”). Some of the first poems in Hollywood Forever seem to bear a spiritual mien, as if to say that sinning is a way to receive grace—but, for whom (“Here’s this unidentified, but/identifiable for some, black/man, walking out of a dingy,/ominously lenient jail cell, his/suit covered in blood, head/bandaged, eyes downcast in/arrogance before shame…”; “We hit the pitched Iowa road like convicts in his landless motor          saw a white god in/Texas       and black one in shackles            and we still woke up in Los Angeles             the choked/up mecca of our carbon black masks      this fame            that      ass       etcetera”)?

 

Hollywood Forever is a pastiche of fragments, prose, prose poems, and what one would conventionally term, “poems.” The book classifies as radical publishing because it is a performative, oppositional act (“Forensics outside of Miles Davis’ jail cell”). The text art design is potentially effective as a radical statement of novel black art; however, of the approximately 78 pieces in the volume, at least 22 are printed in a virtually illegible manner, detracting from the potentially powerful effect of the collection. Nonetheless, Holiday’s new book demonstrates a maturity missing from Negro League Baseball. In 2017, the poet takes her place as a citizen of the United States commenting as a member of a marginalized race though her “voice” remains emotionally wounded and relatively flat intellectually with a nascent sense of agency. Harmony Holiday has received recognition for her novel treatment of themes and for her unique linguistic formulations. Reading this poet’s work is an entry into a psychological discourse of one damaged young woman to herself and, tentatively, to her readers. I have never read anything quite like these writings that are recommended as gateways into one very interesting mind.

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Bio: Clara B. Jones practices poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, she writes about the Arts, Sciences, Technology, and the Environment and conducts research on experimental poetry, as well as, radical publishing. Clara is author of four chapbooks, and her poetry, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in various venues.