poetry in chains (dominic luxford)

now, the title of this book is somewhat confusing: The Poetry Chains of Dominic Luxford – Ten Poets Pick Ten More And So On. ten times ten would make 100 and in fact there are 100 poems in this handy little volume, but by ten times five = 50 poets, in the form of ten chains of five poets being chosen by each other. but never mind the maths.

i found this book in the used books / english language section at slegte bookstore in amsterdam and purchased it for 8 euros. i bought it with the idea that i would probably not find an easier / cheaper way of getting an impression of that many different voices in one go. many of the names were new to me. to see the list with all contributors / all poetry chains, have a look at the poetry foundation’s blog entry here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2007/03/“you’ll-probably-hate-some-of-these-poems”/

some of the poems in here are so-so, some i didn’t like, and some are startlingly beautiful. i am glad i bought this book. if you are looking for a wide cross-section this may be a good place to start. the poetry chains book actually is part of the three volume set of “mc sweeney’s issue 22” so you may or may not be able to find this one separately. one of my favorite poems in here (so far, i am about half way through) is james tate’s radish poem. less humorous but all the more intense and touching, linda tomol pennisi’s doll repair shop poem:

When the rain quivered and slid, we thought the dolls inside the
glass were trembling. When sun spilled in, those with open heads
toppled toward us like cups of gold light. (Think: Drink from me
whenever I am cracked
.) […]

on a more concrete, practical note i was wondering – how common or uncommon is it to have a piece of metal (!) in the spine of a paperback?! there is a 2mm thick piece of aluminium (?) the entire length and width of the spine, between glue and cover. never seen this before. in any case, while it kept the spine itself nice and uncreased, it did not keep the actual binding / the glue from breaking. i also wonder if trying to get this through security at the airport might become an issue…

click for closeup!

another acquisition from my trip to amsterdam: grant morrison’s dr.who comics, issues 1 and 2, and the june 1968 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This one features a short novel by josephine saxton, titled “The Consciousness Machine” – quite a Jungian affair with an ending that, while not unexpected or surprising, is somewhat satisfying. but get this introduction to Ann MacLeod’s short story “Settle” –

Ann MacLeod is young, blonde, attractive and is married to Burt Filer, whose story, “Backtracked,” immediately follows this one.

it is downright ironic, seeing that MacLeod’s story is about a man who literally vanishes, bit by bit, while trying to fix up the newly-bought house to his wife milly’s specifications. in the end it is his own infant offspring who terminates what is left of mister bates.

why is it, i wonder, that we are not told, in the intro to, say, Burt Filer’s story, what his physical appearance is? does it matter that MacLeod is blonde? or married, for that matter, when all we want is to hear the story she wants to tell – and tells well? this is the 60s.

this is why i get such a kick out of these old magazines – this, and because the stories are more about ideas than about explosions, atrocities, extra complicated technological explanations, or sex. the stories are short, and are told simply and effectively. and if you like “bad poetry” you may enjoy the recurring sci/fi themed verses that grace this, and some other issues.


About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

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