January 09, 2010

Ekphrastic Poem-Book of The Year

As I did a review of the year a couple of blogs ago, it turns out that I have made into someone else’s review. Namely, Steven Fama (in California, I think)

It’s a long blog review but some great observations in there. Gratifyingly, Space the Soldier Who Died for Perspective received Steve’s accolade for “Ekphrastic Poem-Book of The Year”. As Steve comments on my expansive and often obscure vocabulary, it amused me that I had to look up ‘ekphrastic’. It means, as you will all know, “a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness”. Readers of my work will of course recognise that commitment to illuminative liveliness(!) despite Steve’s observation that it is “almost utterly incomprehensible, in terms of positivist, or straight-line logical, meaning”. (no offense taken). Interestingly, my experiment in offering some explanation of the work (on my blog in November) didn’t have much effect, as Steve notes that it remains ‘wondrous’ obscure. I am impressed with readers like Steve who enjoy burrowing into the layers despite the difficulty – that act is analogous to my labours in building it. It is the same endeavour that a reader needs to fathom, say, Robert Grenier’s moment of realisation of the drawn poems. In the explanatory blog, I only dealt with the big themes of the ‘Space…’ poems without thinking about “Trehy’s particular Trehy ways with words”. This may seem contrary but when I am using particular words, stretch and pull, locating loaded vocabularies it obviously needs work to read it, but it all seems fairly transparent to me. Steve extracts a partial list of words, from the first 25 pages: (I’d mention that my vocabulary doesn’t change greatly between books. You can find most of the words in Reykjavik and 50 Heads too) and references “Mirror Canon Snips”. That title is a case in point, as it is a fairly straight epithet for the motion of the text – the investigation of the experience/act of moving in space being one of the threads of the poem: In music a mirror canon is “A canon or fugue in which two or more voices are inverted so that the intervals appear simultaneously upside down as well as right side up, looking on paper like a mirror image of each other.” This is juxtaposed with “Snips”. Snips is the way you pronounce the acronym SNP = Single nucleotide polymorphisms which is the most common type of genetic variation. So the title attempts to agglomerate the interweaving of musical lines with the twisting movement of DNA.

Medical terms I use are usually conditions from which I have suffered. Much as “alto rilievo”, which comes from classical architecture/carving meaning high relief was an attempt to describe how the ribs rise up in relief from the wasting flesh of a dying relative, many of the poems are attempts to get to the thickness of an actual experience through language as metaphor. An example from 50 Heads, which comes to mind just now, because of the UK weather, is Lassitude – which comes from an experience from a previous winter when I fell down some icy steps, momentarily losing consciousness in the snow:


0. Sleeps a moment fallen on snowy steps. Will resignation to decay happily (few can resist). Martyrdom can only be given not taken, invited through the rejection of pension arrangements, to tire of the age spent and starving – on the street can still be screaming at the storm – despite compulsory annuity solutions. Regardless, they never allow shock in production & consumption, nothing collapses. Proceeding by exhaustion, from this great mass of details decomposed into a small part containing action, relinquishing cognition, personality, rather than fearing disability to function, embracing our counter-finality. Reject. Peace doesn’t tell us about the fate of fluents not affected by aphasia we can have two different, but equivalent, fears; subversion only as revolt is co-opted if there are simply a finite number of models, these propositional genes are hence vocabulary dependent: bodies in motion or at rest are freed momentarily prior to treatment for concussion: something missing: 1

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