Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

"All the rooms of uncle's head" by Tony Williams (Nine Arches Press, 2011)

A square pamphlet with unnumbered pages. 30 poems, except that each is several poems in a 2-D arrangement. To see what I mean, have a look at an extract. The conceit is that they're reconstructed tiles from a psychiatrist's cellar. On the back it says that the maker was an inmate. At the front it's not so clear whether the work is by one patient or several.

Yes, there's a block of text in the centre of each tile (usually 14 lines) which could be analysed as a unit, but even this is sometimes broken into parts. There's big text (treat it as a title if you wish), border text, and extra annotations. Juxtapositional effects need to be taken into account. And how do the poems interact with each other? Do the borders join up? Perhaps they form a 3 by 10 floor, or a 5 by 6 one. Associations are loose, flung to the edges of the page and beyond.

Patterns vary even in the first 3 poems. "Uncle Imagines", has 14 lines of 10 syllables, the rhyme scheme "abacdc efef ghhg". "En Route Nowhere" has 14 lines of 10 syllables, the rhyme scheme beginning "aabbcc" then fading out. "Garret Brain" has 7 rhyming couplets, with 9 to 12 syllables per line. "Uncle" appears a few times, as does bird imagery, bats and flies (the theme of flight and escape pervades). The Prof (their healer, but maybe also a literary prof, the healer of the broken tiles) gets several mentions. Mary appears at least 3 poems. There are Kings - of Bohemia, Ponds and Woods.

I think some spadework needs to be done before the poems can be fully appreciated. Let me try to assemble some information about each piece

Title?Label (bottom left)Notes
Uncle ImaginesMoral
En Route NowhereEssay
Garret BrainLyric
Folk SongPlaintOne of 2 plaints (a lamentation)
Empty GrottoScéance
Cirque de la LuneDisdain
Enter visitorTaxon
HeliotropeIdea for a musical theatreCentred. About Icarus?
Drink SleepPortraitAbout pubs
Beetle JackpotEssayOne of 2 essays. Start and end of each line are an anagram-pair
Country MarketEulogyAcrostic: Struts by Weland
Marsh MoodPredictionAcrostic: Blissfulnesses
HemipteronLaw 32Hemipteron=an insect with sucking mouthparts
Roundel Pit/IrisMemorandumAcrostic: Wright Brothers. Around the outside it says 'contraption bred of brotherly love'
Confessio AmantisEssayOne of 2 essays. "The Lover's Confession" is long Middle English poem. Near the middle of each line is a capitalized letter. Together the letters form 'archaeopteryx'. About Darwin?
Hut LovePlaintOne of 2 plaints (a lamentation)
Fanned FeathersCourtesy
Supernal DresserSong6 lines end with 'violet flowers'
Orange EmbersEdict of Words
The Weak the strong The stronger the angelsTale
Mary forgive meLullaby
Bright MarchMonody
StygoxeneSketchStygoxene=organisms found only occasionally in caves
Ox Looking behind himExperiment
Strata lyingPhantasy
Under reachingSoundingMentions HappenStance (bottom right)
Messiah of the boatmenReport
Scrape sumpProverb
Earth bankLure
King of the woodRebuke

How much is random and how much carefully constructed? I don't know. Around the first poem "KLABOUTERMANNIKIN" appears. LAB? ABOUT? OUTER? TERM? MANNIKIN? Around "Orange Embers" is "MANIKINS" - any connection? I think "orange" is only mentioned in one other place - in "Fanned Feathers". Significant? All in all it's an ambitious and noteworthy effort. I may well add to these notes later.

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment