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Dorothy Lehane’s Places of Articulation (Dancing Girl Press, 2014)

Dorothy Lehane’s Places of Articulation (Dancing Girl Press, 2014)

http://dulcetshop.ecrater.com/p/20993248/places-of-articulation-dorothy-lehane

Hot on the heels of her debut collection, Ephemeris (Nine Arches Press, 2014), Dorothy Lehane’s Places of Articulation (Dancing Girl Press) continues her exploration of the physiological body by looking at various neurological conditions that effect speech. I admire Dorothy’s poetry because it is both experimental and about something worth exploring. Here she is broadly concerned with conditions of, such as irrealis and echolalia, or impediments to, speech from a neurological perspective. It is possible to argue that such impediments are also borne from social conditions, and indeed Lehane immediately locates aphasia in a social context:

erase bashful in stutter, or erasure
in cortex
yours, yours, a monstrous infancy
trespass careful, or fathers will

Lehane’s poem exploits the double meaning of aphasia as an inability to understand speech and an inability to produce speech, and is thus able to gesture at a range of possible associations and connections to produce a beguiling poem. Her pithy poems encompass concerns with phonetics, semantics, prattle, brain asymmetry, broken syntax, as they focus upon places of articulation and words formed and undone.

seems the world rebounds
words run their course
long organic death proliferates
for all the wrongs
said to be still surviving
your dead Latin
in your dead mouth

Lehane’s language work is strong. I would like to read more stretching of words to convey rupture, displacement and the struggle towards utterance. Sufferers of, for example, cerebral palsy and motor neurone diseases have speech disorders, show environmental and sensory awareness and do effect sonic and other responses within a wide range of understanding. Her poems are sinewy and effective. ‘Aleph’ is particularly strong with its musicality and rhythm effortlessly taking the sense, and reader, forward:

how poor in brushed poverty
acoustic ways to find all morning we kill

for a little letter privilege
fervent inceptions we strain to hear
by divine name this aleph so long to sage
recall in all its plexus in all its cursing

The final poem in the sequence, ‘goodnight, Malaysian three seven zero’ is a collage, rich in language play, of the last utterances of dying people. Part of the fun of the poem’s arc comes from assigning dying words to someone from the list of cultural figures footnoted at the poem’s end as it seamlessly unfolds.

This is another wonderful chapbook from the Dancing Girl Press.
Lehane is a poet well worth following.

David Caddy December 3rd 2014

Ephemeris by Dorothy Lehane

Ephemeris by Dorothy Lehane

Nine Arches Press

Dorothy Lehane opens her recently published book of poems with a quotation from that old Black Mountaineer Buckminster Fuller:

‘I live on earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.’

Let me add another quotation to this and it comes from Part One of Fuller’s Critical Path essays:

‘In scientific prognostication we have a condition analogous to a fact of archery—the farther back you are able to draw your longbow, the farther ahead you can shoot. For this reason we opened this book with our “Speculative History,” taking us back five million years through four ice ages, and at least three and one-half million years of scientifically proven presence of humans on Earth. We are confident of the validity of our speculative prehistory because it is predicated on naked humans’ physical limits of existence and on environmentally permitted and induced human behaviour and on human artefact-altered environments and their progressive circumstance- delimiting and capability-increasing effects. It is also synergetically comprehensive.’

Lehane’s second poem in this volume of energetic sparks is titled ‘Buckminster Fuller’:

‘heck, pioneer, maverick
Buckminsterfullerene: clean coal,
giant trilby, the dome geodesic

spacer molecules
unitary air is in the air

primitive bacteria are alive with you
man is not consciously cell
nor quasi-paradox

consumption with depression
meaning inertia’

We may indeed not be ‘consciously cell’ but Fuller claimed, soon before the publication of Critical Path that in July 1980, at eighty-five years of age ‘I have consumed over 1000 tons of food, water, and air, which progressively, atom by atom, has been chemically and electromagnetically converted into all the physical components of my organism and gradually displaced by other income atoms and molecules.’ The Foreword Fuller wrote to this, his most important book, concludes with a quotation from e. e. cummings, a poet’s advice: ‘A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.’ And Fuller then goes on to add ‘I’m not claiming to be a poet or that this book is poetry, but I knew cummings well enough to be confident that he would feel happy that I had written it.’ Dorothy Lehane is a poet.

I like the movement of sound in that early poem, the clicking echo between the slangy ‘heck’ and the claim for amateurism in ‘maverick’. I like the movement of eye between the human and the mathematical as ‘giant trilby’ sits beside ‘dome geodesic’. I like the merging of plurality into oneness as ‘molecules’ and ‘bacteria’ are recognised as part of the life within. The consumption of language, reading words and digesting meaning, makes us who we are and is provocative of movement not ‘inertia’. From its Greek origin onwards synergism suggests propulsion towards work. Odysseus was the only one who could string and draw that bow: get out of the way suitors; wrong time, wrong place!

In her introduction to the second issue of Litmus Dorothy Lehane directs our attention towards poetry which is ‘inherently neurological’ and yet which ‘doesn’t labour to assign literary parallels for scientific theory, nor promote heavy use of devices such as metaphor’. The work to be found within the hundred or so pages of this startling new issue of what already promises to become a major magazine player for the forthcoming years presents ‘subtle coded work operating at the limits of collaborative engagement’.

Bucky would, I suspect, have appreciated Dorothy Lehane’s poems and would also have had respect for ‘the neurological issue’ of Litmus: dip into it and see!

Ian Brinton 27th October 2014: centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas.

Tears in the Fence Festival

Tears in the Fence Festival

Tears in the Fence is delighted to announce that we will be holding a Festival, in celebration of the magazine’s Thirtieth Anniversary, at the White Horse, Stourpaine, on 24-26 October 2014. There will be readings, talks, discussion, bookstalls and displays, a Festival Supper, music from No Fixed Abode and open readings in a large Marquee situated next to the White Horse. Among the speakers will be Ian Brinton, Sarah Crewe, Jennifer K. Dick, Carrie Etter, John Freeman, Cora Greenhill, Lucy Hamilton, Jeff Hilson, Peter Hughes, Norman Jope, Dorothy Lehane, Pansy Maurer-Alvarez, Chris McCabe and Steve Spence. Others will be announced in due course.

We will also be celebrating Dylan Thomas’s centenary, and looking at future poetic developments. The pub will be open all day for refreshments from Friday morning onwards. The spirit of the Festival will be in the tradition of the international Wessex Poetry Festivals 1995-2001 and it is hoped that this event will lead to a new series of annual Festivals.

We will be running a bookstall throughout the weekend. Please bring your books, pamphlets and magazines. There will be two sessions of open readings during the Festival. Please book a slot.

Advance weekend tickets are £50, including the Festival Supper from a choice of meals on Saturday evening. Please send a cheque, made out to Tears in the Fence Festival, to David Caddy, Portman Lodge, Durweston, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 0QA.

It is also possible to pay directly through BACS:
Bank: HSBC
Account name: Tears in the Fence Festival / ‘TITFF’
Sort Code: 40-46-37
Account number: 31501534

A full Festival programme will be announced shortly. There will be regular updates to the website’s Festival page.

Litmus Magazine issue 1: the forensic issue

Litmus Magazine issue 1: the forensic issue

This is a short blog to promote what I think is one of the finest new magazines available on the market and I write it to encourage those who have not come across it to buy a copy and to subscribe to its future. Magazines (and here Tears in the Fence is a prime example having existed for thirty years through the efforts of David Caddy and without any support from the National Institutions)

 

SURVIVE

 

only because there are enough people out there who want to read something that is more than the pre-digested regurgitations of the ‘accepted’ market. Issue 1 of Litmus contains work by poets of significant renown such as David Marriott, Simon Smith, Geraldine Monk, Sarah Crewe, Aidan Semmens, Ken Edwards and Mario Petrucci but, most interestingly , it contains work by new poets and by those who have been closely involved in the world of contemporary poetry in recent years: Jeff Hilson, Richard Price, Anthony Mellors. And…it contains an essay by me about Prynne and his French translator Bernard Dubourg!

 

You won’t find this work anywhere else and Dorothy Lehane’s editorial sets out the challenge for you in uncompromisingly clear terms:

 

‘The resulting work is not easy material; it does not always attempt to educate and does not promise to add to your comprehension of science. Rather, its complex processes require the reader to explore some parallels between linguistic construction and forensic science. The reader is invited to embark upon a journey involving botany, metempsychosis, massacre and even fairy tales.’

 

The magazine can be ordered through either the editors: editors@litmuspublishing.co.uk

or

www.litmuspublishing.co.uk

 

Ian Brinton 4th June 2014.

 

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