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.


Six poems by Mark Young

is not to have thought

According to the
patter over & in
between the tracks
from unsigned
bands that the late-
summer elephant is
playing, a burst of
radio energy from
deep space is
likely to cause the
scaling back of opium
production on campus.

The peer reviewed
literature proposes
the use of ritual
cleansing & the
wearing of under-
wire bra bikini
bathing suits with
low cut bottoms
to prepare for any
subsequent mayhem.




I wake up late.

Dylan Thomas is in the bed beside me.

He smells of liquor.

I am about to throw him out when he starts speaking.

His words don’t get to me, but, oh, that Welsh accent.

I remember I liked him, long years ago.

Must have been when I was a windy boy & a bit.

I’ve moved on since, following neither that path

nor the road less traveled by.

Other avenues, other trees.

Sometimes, though, when the winds die down

& dreams are thin on the ground

you can hear the old voices.

Even though they no longer speak to you

you pause & listen to them.


A / little something / for Ray Craig

The temperament
of birds. Cardboard
containers of take-
out noodles. Light,
elongated? No, not
that, the things it
touches. Ensuing.



…………………..Only the mind-
…………….games he en-

……….gages in have
…………………interiors of

………………………….sufficient ex-
…………………..quisiteness to

…………….bring forth the

…………..of proliferations
……………………………his greatness



Be specific, at first.

If the idea of the
band without Bonzo
wasn’t bad enough,

now you’ve got
the rest of them
spending most of

their time sulking
on the fact that they
were never able to

get a second life as
a discarded mattress
in a recycling plant.


We are your trusted source for Bibles

Based upon the
flawed premises
that the plug
can be clipped
into the overflow
to keep your bath
tidy, & that every-
one on the show
has developed a

Famous Body, the
use of Keratin Complex
Smoothing Therapy
causes globalization
& geopolitics to
intertwine & become
an intellectual edifice
that’s a convenient
size to work with.


Mark Young’s most recent books are Ley Lines & bricolage, both from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York.

Minda de Vanghel by Mark Young

One of the least developed
strands in Stendahl’s unfin-

ished novel Le Rose et le Vert —
but obviously intended to be

important based on how much
of the author’s working notes

are given over to it — is an
analysis of the changing face of

vegetarian restaurants along
the hippest road in London.



Mark Young has recently had two chapbooks come out as part of William Allegrezza’s Locofo Chaps political poetry series which aims to publish 100 chaps in the first 100 days of Trump’s incumbency. The ever-increasing selection of chapbooks are downloadable from

Double U by Mark Young

I head south. Down Highway #1, the main National Highway. Two days & I could be in Sydney. I think about it seriously.

But. Arriving in Sydney in shorts & sandals & T-shirt? Worn for two days? & it’s still fucking winter down there .

So. No. & anyway, that’s not the purpose of this little jaunt.

I’m entranced by placenames. & in my travels up & down this stretch I’ve seen signposts pointing to Upper Ulam. Several of them, different roads. The name intrigues me. I think of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, Ulaanbaater, & wonder if there are yurts in the hinterland.

So I go, past Midgee, past Gavial, past the Nobel explosives factory. Think about dropping in & asking for a prize. Almost as far as Bajool. Those faraway places….I’m heading for what I think is the third road to double U. It seems to be sealed, at the beginning at least, but that’s no true indicator. Six Mile Road it turns out to be called — the early European settlers were really inventive with their naming; I’ve seen so many six mile, nine mile, twelve mile, creeks, roads, penny arcades in my roamings — & no signposts apart from the name. &, inevitably, six meters up the road is a sign saying gravel road, & six miles up the road it ends at the front gate of somebody’s property.

Retrace my steps. Take the next turn-off. Gravel road, though not really. More like compacted clay, light brown, the odd bit of gravel on it. & then, in the middle of nowhere, tarseal. It’s something that’s quite common round these parts, sealed road for no apparent reason, not at the beginning, not near anything that might pass for a settlement (two or more houses). Just appears in the middle of nowhere.

Follow the road, come to the intersection where the right turn obviously heads back to the highway & the other turn-off. Head left, slight rise, tar seal stops, pass the Upper Ulam Recreation Reserve, further on another intersection. The Upper Ulam Road heads off to the right, the Ulam Connection Road to the left. Follow the latter since there are signs on it saying it’s a school bus route & maybe it even goes to Ulam. If there is an Ulam. Horseshit on the road. Turns into a fucking goat track after a couple of kilometers. I turn around before I turn into a goat.

Retrace my steps again. Take the upper Upper Ulam Road. Quite a few properties with unromantic names, including XXXX which is proclaimed by a purloined metal advertising sign. (New South Wales joke: Q. Why do Queenslanders call their favourite beer XXXX? A. Because they can’t spell fuck properly.) Cattle & horses on the properties, but nothing close enough together, not even a circle of yurts, to suggest a settlement. Realise that Ulam is probably the name of the valley I’ve been going up & down. No idea where the name comes from. Unlikely that it’s mathematical, even though “… the Borsuk–Ulam theorem (BUT) states that every continuous function from an n-sphere into Euclidean n-space maps some pair of antipodal points to the same point” & that could possibly make some sort of sense here.

Stop at the Reserve to have a cigarette. Looks looked after or at least the grass is short. Tables & benches under cover, a couple of barbeque plates, toilets — although probably just a hole in the ground — & a chunk of marble (?) mounted on a concrete base, a meter or so high, half a meter deep/wide, quite attractive actually, flecked with silica that reflects prismatically in the sun, & with a small plaque mounted on it saying that this was a 1988 Bicentennial project.

Haven’t seen many birds. A few currawongs & magpies. No crows, not surprising since they’re highway birds, where the pickings are better. But out of the car there’s quite a bit of bird noise. & not much else.

So, head home again, thinking of that line from J. K. Baxter —”How many roads we take that lead to Nowhere” — & putting a line through Upper Ulam on my list of places to meander to when the mood takes me.