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

mark young in melbourne 3 small (1)


The perfume of the abyss
Mark Young
Moria Books
76 pp
$12.95 (

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!


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


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


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.

Haibun For Race Dysphoria, by Clara B. Jones

for Kara Walker

Jamal has been diagnosed with a severe form of Race Dysphoria, producing anxiety, even psychotic episodes, by desires to identify as a racial type other than the one assigned at birth. Since he was six, Jamal has felt like a white person, never eating collard greens or fried flounder sandwiches. His mother called him a “picky eater” though she sometimes worried it might be more than that. Jamal’s father was convinced he was gay since he showed no interest in sports except fencing which he watched on PBS® every Friday at nine. When his brother, Tyrone, played rap music, Jamal hid under blankets in a fetal position which his counselor said was a sure symptom of Oedipal conflict and regression to a pre-sexual stage. [Race Dysphoria* was appended to DSM-IV by a near-unanimous vote at the Spring A.P.A. convention in 2018. Members disagreed about how the disorder should be classified, but a majority determined the pathology to be a type of anxiety.] When his family went out to eat, Jamal had a tantrum if Tyrone suggested McDonald’s®, and he cried uncontrollably if his mother wore an afro wig. When his father got corn rows, listening to Wagner was Jamal’s only consolation, and thinking about the courage of Rachel Dolezal sometimes brought him temporary relief. Though his dark skin would make it difficult to be accepted as Caucasian, Jamal is confident that a name-change will be a step in the right direction. A transracial person has nowhere to go but up.

Turns chrysanthemums xanthous
And zebra stripes blue.

*”A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture. This pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas: 1. Cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people and events) 2. Affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, liability, and appropriateness of emotional response) 3. Interpersonal functioning 4. Impulse control B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. D. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood. E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder. F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma).” DSM-IV (pp 287-298)


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other works, she is author of the collection, Poems for Rachel Dolezal, published in 2019 by GaussPDF.

Zaum Is Autonomous, by Clara B. Jones

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 || Science || Performance
All Art is political.

Identity || Decompensation || Asylum [Panopticon]
All Art is [about] madness.

Judith Butler || Anna Freud || id || “defamiliar”
All Art is [about] impulse.

Differential || Connectionism || AI [Deconstruct] || Resist [Disrupt]
Women placed in boxes—kitchens, nurseries, patisseries [Holly Iglesias]


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD [USA]. Among other works, she is author of the collection, Poems For Rachel Dolezal, published in 2019 by GaussPDF.



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


Emily Martin
The Testimony of the Skaters and the Transcript on the Rink
Gauss PDF

Unpaginated (16 pp)


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

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

…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.


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
gradient books (Finland)
Available at

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.


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

m_ margo

M; Margo
Pennine Hillsongs
(The Haunted Mask II)
PDF available free online (see link)
Ghost City Press (
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 ( 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.

A Long Weekend In The Woods Can’t Solve Every Problem¹, by Clara B, Jones

for Lucie Brock-Broido (d. 2018)

Lucie needed to get away./a state of awakened consciousness/Her silver Honda owned the dirt road./a tradition of powerful females/animals with beaks hopping, hoping for fat grasshoppers grey in morning light./every outer atrocity is an inner one/A picnic basket domestic as her platinum ring, hand heavy with meaning changing day by day,/the language of the oppressor/no doubts as she traveled far from Route 40,/how we dread what we desire/topographic map displayed latitude,/an altered symbolism/Appalachia never looked so green in morning, or birds so hungry,/language is revisionist/feathered forms startled insects from grass, chased others back into the forest where she was going./a woman with “a man’s mind”/This was her Jurassic Park,/a nightmare/her green time gone, declension of love’s fault lines beyond repair,/her deepest self/like their shed at home, broken shelter facing West in her direction, climbing unfamiliar terrain./memory/.


¹Italics found in Ostriker A (1983) Writing like a woman. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.


Clara B. Jones practices poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). She, also, conducts research on experimental poetry and radical publishing. Clara is author of four chapbooks and one volume (/feminine nature/, 2017, Gauss PDF), and her poetry, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various venues.

What Is Prim-i-tive [/’primǝdiv/]? by Clara B. Jones



Prim-i-tive [/’primǝdiv/]?


Roger Reeves PLASTIC ART C.M. Burroughs Lele Saveri !Kung
Baudrillard Zora Neal Hurston ANTI-AESTHETIC Wari Kahlil Joseph
LGBTQI Reginald Dwayne Betts Harryette Mullen Frederick O. Waage* Masai
Francine J. Harris Kongo Wangechi Mutu Terrance Hayes POETRY
Neanderthal GENDER Sara Cwynar Cuña Morgan Parker
Hegel Picasso Gottfried Benn Klee Yanomami
Rosalind Krauss Bribri BAUHAUS Mira Dancy POSTMODERN
Phillip Williams Karen Kilimnik Fore CLASS Jamal May
Sol LeWitt Gauguin RACE Yagua Darja Bajacic
Craig Owens Lévi-Strauss Selk’nam Nikki Giovanni Harry Burke


*Waage FO (1967) Prehistoric Art. W.C. Brown Co. Pub., Dubuque, Iowa.


Clara B. Jones practices poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, she writes about identity, culture, & society and conducts research on experimental poetry, as well as, radical publishing. She is author of three chapbooks and one volume, and her poetry, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in various venues.

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

yr yr
Matt Margo
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.



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.