Two new collections of living poetry brought to the surface by the
When Michael Farrell’s collection, Open Sesame, appeared from Giramondo Press in Australia two years ago it had this comment on the back cover: ‘This poetry can be unsettling, and its abstract music is passionate as well as parodic. Farrell’s fractured narratives seem to settle in the reader’s mind where they become a form of pure lyricism’.
The Australian poet Henry Lawson (to whose memory a statue of the poet accompanied by a swagman, a fencepost and a dog was put up in Sidney in the early 1930s) becomes the title of one of these new fast-moving pieces which merge the world of Michael McClure and that parodic humour pointed out the blurb above.
reading henry lawson
i go into the snow &
see a rainbow. cars have action: streets shriek
‘our love affair.’
Quoting the tones of
ICE ISLAND SIGHLAND SIC ICELANDIC EYES
backpack, head full of ‘i’
words. don’t make me rue
the day i took up Spanish things. (hold
the tool in your would be
In his introduction to Talking Poetics, Dialogues in Innovative Poetry (Shearsman 2011) Scott Thurston reminded us that ‘writings have their own secret life which escapes the writer, which eludes her or him, and without which the whole endless, sacrificial labour of writing would be worthless’. Scott’s new sequence, Figure Detached, Figure Impermanent, gives us that truth on the page as we confront mystery and a compassionate understanding of cultural values:
This poem has already been read for you. Isn’t a word a site
of interaction? No need to overcome disagreement when
you throw yourself away so easily. Source the act.
Recognise, reject pattern; find equilibrium. In the luxury of
the past she went into character as a listener, the witness just
another brick in the wall.
Both these chapbooks are full of humour: mischievous and graceful, sharp-edged as comments upon the world. Whether it is Scott Thurston’s nod in the direction of Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man in Pulp Fiction who tells his partner that it is time for them to ‘get into character’ or Michael Farrell’s shift of the name of a French poet, so dear to contemporary poetics, into a self-pummelling verb of astonishment (‘mallar me’) there is a vibrancy about these two volumes which make them worth ordering immediately.
Ian Brinton 4th April 2014.