|Posted by Susan Shand on January 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM||comments (6)|
Dem Bones! Dem Bones!
For those of you who know the old song you will remember how disarticulated the skeleton is and how, during the song we connect one bone to another. However, it has to be reconstructed in the correct relationships; connecting the thigh bone to the shoulder bone results in an amusing shape but a not very functional one.
So lets look at a few bones. Who’s bones they are you will have to discover for yourself. The e-magazine in which they are published separates the work from the author. Which makes you address the work on its own merits but doesn’t really assist (without running endlessly up and down the PDF) in helping to identify the culprit.
the unlit fire Mexico in a room
What we have here is a disarticulated skeleton which we must reconstruct in order to understand its function. Lacking the usual punctuation we have to make up our own minds on how to read this. As I read it there are three possible readings. If anyone can see any more readings which might enlighten me, do please reveal them.
the unlit fire (Mexico) in a room.
the unlit fire, Mexico in a room.
the unlit. fire. Mexico in a room.
The first reading places us in Mexico (and Mexico in the centre of our awareness) in a room which contains an unlit fire. I imagine that in Mexico one rarely needs a fireplace, perhaps we puzzle over why it is there?
The second focuses on the unlit fire and contrasts that with some quality of Mexico which is in the room. Perhaps the fireplace looks Mexican? Or perhaps the heat which might be in the fire if we lit it is reminiscent of Mexico.
The third is a progression. We notice the unlitness – then there is fire – then we are struck by the Mexicanness of the room in some way.
The author doesn’t help us to see their mind or meaning. Even combining all three readings together or consecutively does not reveal a contrast of ideas or images within which we can delve into their meaning. What remains is a mental puzzle to which we have no key and we are forced to abandon the attempt to understand. In our experiencing we find ourselves in a room decorated in a Mexican manner in which we contemplate an unlit fire. There we stop. It does not invite our engagement or our understanding. The author holds to themselves the meaning of that moment and their own relationship to it.
In another example, I am reminded of the Dadaists, who reputedly wrote words on pieces of paper scattered them about and collected their order as they fell in random patterns.
flown the audible
In this one the tenses of the words and the construction appears to be completely random. There is no meaning which we can articulate so that it functions in transmitting ideas to us. The author has left space after ‘amnesia’ to suggest a time of mental forgetting before the awareness of ‘fields’, but the meaning of the first line is enduringly obscure.
The author’s self-congratulatory smile can almost be seen in this one,
I will leave you to puzzle over this one. I have better things to do with my few remaining brain cells than to spend time using them up in trying to discover any deeper meaning in this than one might find in a Wordsearch puzzle book.
Or this one,
indigo my groin fold against it
where we are invited to contemplate someone’s groin against a colour (possibly of their jeans) in a standard looking formulaic haiku format juxtaposing a foreground image with a phrase. So what? Ok, you got us to look at your groin, now what?
My frst response to this one,
‘n the night torn
from a dog’s belly
is to ask “how many letters?” Must be 5 down in 7 letters. Does it have meaning beyond that mental puzzle which asks us to play with *the word* itself? To play around with words as though they were lego bricks. Yes we can pick this one apart, deconstruct it in order to make the associations between words and to come to some idea of what the author might have meant. But my instinct is still to look for anagrams. We cannot get to the authors meaning because it is obscured in the disarticulated images which we cannot ever hope to decode with any accuracy.
So if our deconstruction is thwarted with these poems, can we approach these from the somatic? Can we engage not with the words but with the flavour, the synesthesia of colour and texture which absorbs us in our own experiencing?
I think not. I think these are an attempt at approaching that synesthesia and the somatic experience without any real appreciation of what the somatic is. Without that knowledge, the authors are left with only the play of words in a mental game of blind man’s chess where they simulate the somatic associations but lack the actual connections in order to function in that space. As readers we approach these works expecting to engage with them, then we find that we can’t because we don’t understand them – then we are reduced to silence or the phatic approval so socially evident around the bazaars. Unwilling to be the one to tell the king he has no clothes – or to admit that we don’t understand them – we collude.
Well I’m sorry, but I don’t understand these poems. Even though I have had one or two explained to me I still don’t understand them. There is nothing there with which I can engage and associate. They are disarticulated from my understandings, my emotional response, and my empathetic engagement. I don’t care if I look a fool for saying so because I believe that it is the author’s responsibility to make themselves known. To reveal something about the world which is familiar enough to others to be identified. If I don’t understand it, then my assumption is that it is most likely to be because the writer hasn’t written it well, or that they have withheld something vital; the key to knowing the meaning and meanings which they experienced. I have no desire to be walked down anyone’s garden path merely to find myself abandoned because my guide chooses to keep secret the purpose of our journey. Should I wish to, I can plan my own post-modern journeys, through the mental exercise of words in a kaleidoscope; or my own Psycho-geographic adventure into the confusion of concept and sign/name.
I don’t even think that these works are even classifiable as “Gendai”, largely because they remain as intellectual puzzles. Clever perhaps, but not *poetry*. That for me is what is lacking, it just isn’t poetry, it doesn’t connect with my somatic responses to poetry. All I am left with at the end is a jumble of bones.