95books for 2014: list 13: Poems & other histories of the future

Here, mostly poetry, some local history, philosophy and a novel. Underway to finish are various histories and biographies.

  1. distinctions: (rob mclennan, above/ground, 2014)
    The fragmentary pieces play towards and away from narrative. For example while not without subject or central density, it teases parts of external and internal and multiple readings. Yet as “not presently”, and as “but”. Quirky concrete details. Who would wish a child to be born an Eeyore, hold that up as a masculine ideal? The foetal as moving thru all the species of fish to bird to mammal to independent person. Each phrase cantilevers so the movements are dense and economical.

    No way of knowing, yet. But she might feel. Dentist predicts: a boy. Gifts an Eeyore toothbrush. Kim dreamed: a girl. Fade, remain, entire weeks. What have we to offer? Wings, detach. Break free. The black thick space of mouth, collapsing.

  2. Nickel Gambles [from] carcino¼Ґ!Y#86Øi‡ſß™86Ł*,´≈μðm‰г]³4¤±_gen (16 Pages Digital Chapbooks ed./curated by Daniel Zomparelli, 2014)
  3. To quote from it confuses my html into crashing with junk characters such as in its title.
    I adore the pace of the text, and how it emulates how conversations sound, some clear, some as if muffled through a watery tunnel. I love the play in spelling “we admit plane enough”. It mixes slack passing the time conversations and randomized content. It kicks out phrases like “something to benign upon” The presentation is another level of delight so check out the link while it’s live.

  4. Robert Bly: Selected Poems (Harper & Row, 1986)
    I enjoyed how he introduced each sample from various projects. The preface of what he was aiming to do, what he was reading and writing at the time, how projects overlapped I found fascinating and plain-spoken.
    Somehow when people talk about poetry, their own or that of others, they get all tangled in some unnecessary script. It is interesting where he said, such as in this I threw over what I’d done before and embrace strict syllables but the tone and effect is much the same. He has in the poems some wonderful moments “our bodies jointed as calmly/as the swimmer’s shoulders glisten at dawn”
    The Hockey Poem is perhaps the funniest poem I have read in a good while. People on the train were beginning to get curious about my laughing aloud. Now let me ruin the joke by saying it’s the unexpected comparisons he makes. Here’s from the first quarter,
    Robert Bly
    The combination of comparisons surprised greatly along with being such gentle images for such towering roughhousing boys.
    Admittedly I have a soft spot for ants but this Winter Poem is simply lovely,
    Robert Bly
  5. Images from Declassifed Nuclear Test Films by Stephen Brockwell (above/ground, 2014)
    YouTube channel for those nuclear test films It is a hard task to talk about incomprehensibly heinous things flatly and lightly enough that the reader can draw the horror instead of being told second hand.
    The last poem is a list poem on nothing, on silence, absence and it accumulates in a moving way of all the things that are in nothing.
  6. Thou by Aisha Sasha John (BookThug, 2014)
    She rages against female as petit asexual shy and scared. From “Forcing a blush out of them”

    Help me understand
    as a social apparatus
    so I just swam.
    And feel so nice. […]
    The black hole of your
    sweat stain.
    I put on my $300 bathing suit
    to swim the old water.
    To see it.

    A lot of poems are of checking out guys. She battles the embedded culture that has gobbled out the romantic fear culture of Hitchcock. p. 21

    Alfred said: are the dark trees at war with the darklike trees?
    People want to be scared.
    And then you scare them.
    I want to embarrass
    you. To crouch
    my my stupid swollen body.
    It’s getting longer.
    Because I talk.
    I rest
    my hand on my own belly kindly
    when I’m
    being tender with myself.
    The romance capable
    only of girls
    as girls.

    The binary of binding roles is false. It is a struggle to get to what is, rather than what is imposed on top. Not the oversimplified but the simple present when so much past and imagination is internalized. Wheat and chaff. p. 57 “Men who know about women understand there aren’t/any”. It’s unfortunate that has to be said but since it needs reiterating, it’s good to see someone voicing it.
    In p. 53-56 “Okay I skimmed the book; that’s enough” she says

    If I am the same as other people, why don’t they like poetry. I love poetry.
    And I am the same as other people. I’ve checked.
    Sometimes I watch a video and feel good that I am the same as other people.

    Somewhere in a reading pause after that it occurred to me why people match each other in posture, mimic tone and terms, perhaps even the dress code. Not to conform but in recognition of the impossible chasm between each individual and to signal they wish to make an effort despite the odds to communicate anyway.
    It’s mostly poetry as a blunt instrument, talking about ideas. “I do not prefer the neatness my imagination offers the future” (p.59) but it is isn’t uniformly hammering a new present. Lyrically sweets slip in “you have a bib/of sunburned skin” or (p. 135) “I want t smekk the armpits of the line//like how the unit of a poem/is your mouth” or “May we bathe/ in the waters of our enoughness” (p. 77).
    Many of the poems seem to align with Stuart Ross’ principle of “write uncleverly”. Or take a page from Kenneth Patchen’s The Artist’s Duty such as,

    So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
    To extend all boundaries
    To fog them in right over the plate
    To kill only what is ridiculous
    To establish problem
    To ignore solutions
    To listen to no one
    To omit nothing
    To contradict everything
    To generate the free brain

    It’s a fresh kind of beauty. It has a resistance to itself that goes higher and lower, rather than forming a rut of itself, if that makes sense.
    It makes for a quick read since there’s a sense of blurt rather than carefully constructed intricate sonic web to ooh and ah over. Poems detail digestion, or slang clichés do so knowing. The talk of “physically” meaning, I guess, being in the body and the experience, not the should of the mind wore on.

  7. The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol reader, edited by Darren Wershler-Henry and Lori Emerson, (Coach House, 2007)
    Some chapters are the most invigorating fun poetry I’ve read in a good long while. The full range of emotions and intellect get engaged. It can go from anecdote to playing in a build universe where letters of the alphabet are characters. There’s a dance of sound and ideas, exploring but the dance of someone who knows various kinds of dance and brings that to new steps.
    I may never get why people like his Billy the Kid, for example. The autobiography of train series was interesting. I admire his desire for dexterity.
    Poetry doesn’t get encoded as lines stacked thus with an upshot of feel sad and maybe with a twist of mildly surprised or sharply sad. They are more open and filled.
  8. Whiskey And Wickedness: Lower Rideau River Valley of Carleton, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties (Whiskey and Wickedness, #1) Larry D Cotton, (Larry D. Cotton Associates Ltd., 1997)
    The book goes into great detail of the wild years of Bytown such as (p. 29-30) when the Shiners ruled as a vigilante mob for a decade. In one case a group attacked a carriage with wife and children of an Orangeman who they beat. They dumped the people, stole the horses, cut off the horses and ears of the horses. The family recovered, the horses were recovered. A revenge gang was formed against Gleeson, but was put off by officials who assured them that they would look after justice, while after spreading a rumour that the Orangeman would attack so Catholic families got arms ready. Gleeson was fined. It seemed to blow over. But a year later Orangeman Hobbs found Gleeson and cut off his ears. IMG_2291
    The data in the book is all fairly primary with quotes or images direct from archives. Did you know most stores had free samples of wine or whiskey from the keg in the back.
    Whiskey & Wickedness
    Every holiday was a reason to be drunk and disorderly. Authorities had problems such as kids horse racing down main street. Early dragging.
  9. An Acre in Time by Phil Jenkins (2002)
    I have meant to read this since it came out. I stalled there a couple times before. It starts precambrian and goes to debates on what to do with Lebreton Flats. Fascinating stuff, except perhaps for the detail of geology. Did you know the first electric stove was invented and first installed in Ottawa?
    An Acre of Time
    The chapter I found most interesting was on Constant Penency who was a native leader who lived through early European trappers moving in, claiming land, his in particular, to it being forested and being settled and his grave.
    An Acre of Time

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