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New on the Vast Horizon of Magazines That Review: HIX EROS, Available for Download
Gaining hot water vapor: Issue 2 of a new journal of poetry reviews, HIX EROS, is now available for download. “Frankly, the poetry was great. Not jvſt because there were no jellyfiſh in ſight or sound or implication or allvfion.” Or find out more about its kin in the form of Hi Zero magazine and UK reading-outreach at the Hi Zero Tumblr. More info on HIX EROS:
It is 45 pages of reviews of books or poetry publications by Goat Far DT & Papa Boop Ndiop, Luke Roberts, Anne Gorick, Judah Rubin (“if day-old (ox?) blood were poured into a stencil designed by Hans Arp, it would look like this,” writes Sarah Hayden), Alison Gibb, Justin Katko, SNOW #1, Tom Leonard, Richard Owens, Carol Watts, John Wilkinson, Rosa Van Hensbergen & Emily Critchley. November 2013. It was edited by Lindsay + [Joe] Luna, and was designed, set and produced by Robbie Dawson.
It’s unlikely you’ll find such a collision in any other venue. Also found is consideration of the book as commodity object–such feelings understood of course within the small-press poetry model of distribution (applies also to U.S., we’d hazard)–so when looking at Carol Watts’s alphabetise (Intercapillary Editions 2010), David Spittle writes:
To explore the discursive area between poetry, the text in its content and form, and its physical platform (be it book, gallery, online etc.) raises a dichotomy between ownership and production in service to unthinking, aesthetic pleasure – and the politicized implications of the book as commodity. Is a book’s appearance, considered as a commodified artifice of texture, shape, colour and size, unfairly misrepresented when we consider that small presses are ‘labours of love’ – or should this be as closely scrutinized as the text itself, and if so, in what way? Many collections can be genuinely beautiful objects (I’m sure there are many out there, like me, who have idly ordered something on Amazon only to be disproportionately excited by how big or shiny said book turns out to be … wriggling in the guilty grime of my own Magpie materialism). To what extent should a consumer of poetry be on guard when facing naturalized ‘beauty’ (the thickness of page, the print etc.) as an apolitical result of literary production? A large part of me feels it would be a pedantic masochism to deny the pleasurable kinship with aesthetics, as unlike a car production line (thinking here of Oppen’s poem, referenced by William Rowe in his recent essay in Zone: ‘Nothing can equal in polish and obscured | Origin that dark instrument | A car’) poetry – surely even in production – strives for an artistic presentation to support the art of the text inside. I feel there are certainly many large presses whose brand and formatting could all be subjected to critique (and I’m sure have been) however on the level of most ‘experimental’ poetry in Britain, it’s enough to strive towards circulation – let alone impractically and perpetually dissect implications of presentation or production and our reception of such features.
Spittle on the content, then:
As the paragraph follows her “purposeful” steps we are told she was about to collide into a mirror, into which “she had not seen herself advancing.” Not only does this effortlessly shift the introductory tone from a (although slightly unsettled) tone of realism into an existential image, but also, in the context of linguistic definition, feels evocative of a funhouse, en abyme effect. A wandering in and out of words that point to other words, back and forth, both reflecting and assuming transparency. This unreliable play of image is revisited later: “He asks her why the ceiling is not a true reflection of the floor.” The family detail that arrives at the end (“daughter’s readiness”) is demonstrative of Watts’ frequent tendency to end on an unresolved twist, as if like a dictionary definition, one word (or piece of the poem) leans on, or leads to, another; never wholly present or finished. We encounter visits to museums, “the biggest ball of string in the world,” “Elfriede Jelenek [sic] and her Nobel prize,” a shark killed by a penknife, birthday celebrations, displays of second-hand books and avian statistics … amongst other cobbled observations, cryptic events and visionary glimpses. The entries range from gentle contemplation and prosaic plainness to flashes of poetic urgency:Suddenly there is danger in randomness. And delight, delivery, guilt. People carry on. What is it that ties you to the flinch of a city? Bones and sinews, as if scar tissue has built you a forest. Finding yourself damaged or saved. Sheared. Loved in number. H says: but I am only nine. It is too short.
As this extract – from Y, “yaw: vb. 1. (of an aircraft, missile, etc.) to turn about its vertical axis” – suggests, often the definitions tip into an anxiety or a feeling of risk. Moments that burst through or derail the anecdotal and banal with confusion or emptiness that threatens to puncture certainty. To temper that concern, elsewhere the peripatetic determination for definition, to keep going, to find out, is beautifully and plainly suggested: “She walked until her words could be understood.” This collection rewards multiple re-readings and manages to beguile and entertain while also intimating unnerving absences.