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I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best (Test Centre, 2014)

I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best (Test Centre, 2014)

Edited by Harry Burke, this anthology assembles work by sixteen young poets, from the UK, USA and Spain, concerned with exploring the implications for the poem, its borders as an object, and poet, of digital technologies. Some of the poets engage with online search results, social media, and the reorganization of pre-existing materials from diverse sources. There is a strong sense of critical questioning of context and how a poem may function in the future as well as a probing of identity.

 

Sophie Collins composes centos derived from other poets lines found by typing a word into the Poetry Archive website’s search engine. The number of lines in each cento is directly proportionate to the number of poems found within each search term. This method is not entirely without authorial choice and the results are effective, spare and fun.

 

panties

 

maybe you need to write a poem without grace

 

remorseless and in poor humour

 

In his Introduction, Burke suggests that the ‘difference between reflecting the infrastructure that surround the poem and critically interrogating its ideological presumptions’ is crucial to the work in the anthology.

 

Guillermo Ruiz de Loizaga’s ‘2030’ made me laugh with its references to the institutionalization of knowledge and what is tolerated as study objects. The poem also made me think more of how we obtain information rather than say Foucault’s archaeology of knowledge, and led to online searches on the Treemen of Indonesia and Romania.

 

avaaz.org advocates plant-human marriage

(10% of the population is bio-curious)

secretly 3d-printing sex toys at home

new irony is the new new sincerity

the Cambridge companion to goodiepal

phd in livejournal archaeology

 

Indeed I was hoping for more critical questioning of the ways social media and phone companies are infiltrating our lives in ways as controlling and threatening as supermarkets, and more probing of the management and selling of information. We live in world of surveillance and tracking.

 

I must confess to being enticed by some of the poem titles, such as ‘Henry Thoreau Arrives At Cabin In Woods Needing Nothing, Orders Axe Off Ebay In Crisis Of Confidence’. I was especially engaged by the work of Francesca Lisette, Marianne Morris, Harry Burke and Bunny Rogers. There is a great deal of humour running through the anthology, which enhances its pleasure. Carina Finn’s work has wit and bite around cultural identities. ‘DEAR ROBERT LOWELL’, in particular, is wickedly funny:

 

Feminism is more than

emulating a Roosevelt. I

contain morality clauses in

my contract.

I’ve made a bunch of banes.

 

This anthology fulfills its promise and delivers a considerable amount of engaging poetry that is thoughtfully alive.

 

David Caddy 27th April 2014

 

 

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