Hislop’s Cartoon Molecules Collected Poems Reviewed by EM Schorb

 
Cartoon Molecules is divided into six stoas, or porticos where, safe from the inclement weather of the outer world, the poet, thinking cap on, can walk like the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece, his readers following him about, absorbing the wisdom he is imparting, and occasionally, though sometimes without full comprehension, repeating it like rhapsodes. In short, the organization of the book invites one in, each stoa like a carnival tent, magical and intriguing to the starry-eyed reader. One pulls a flap and wonders, “What’s in here?” and is never disappointed. But at the same time. the ultimate subject of Mister Hislop’s extraordinary book is so large, so kaleidoscopic, that, in this reader’s opinion, to do it justice requires much more than a review. Like Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, it should have a skeleton key (as by Campbell and Robinson); like the universe, it should have a space traveller who can explore its endless depths. But don’t get me wrong. We get more than enough of magic and beauty when we just get some of it—like beautiful, unknowable life.
 
Take this sampler, a favorite of mine:
 
Dream of the machine
 
At the top of the stairs, perhaps she’s a person
in three persons traffic in her hair hums
life and intelligence a person
a fixed stair with a parading universe
machine intelligence a person
a ballooning moon
a universe in entelechy a person
or is she a simulation
a cartoon molecule in the dream of the machine
as long as she’s prisoner of an unknown
perhaps she’s a simulation
finite limits in a false eternity
voice of a world collapsing endlessly
a frozen world with only leaning things
lapsing crumbling without memory
a world at an end in frosted shadows that ride
in their depths a wilderness
could a machine swallow a universe
or a universe swallow a machine
at the top of the stairs the locusts come
in her hair the simulacrum
 
In this work Mister Hislop reaches for the ends of being and, I suppose, though he may not think it, ideal grace. Deep in this Hislop-simulated universe of the cartoon molecule that dances its jig throughout his space-time continuum, he searches, as in “Dream of the machine,” for what might be called electronic love. He sings the body electric at the top of the stairs. Who is she? What is she? Machine or woman; or some combination of the two? Is it possible for the reader to think of it/her as Grace, or at least, as “grace”? Mister Hislop seems to think of it/her both ways; but then, isn’t it pretty well accepted that there are multiple universes? Perhaps in one universe she is the one thing, and in another, another.

      Is all that we see or seem
      But a dream within a dream?

Aside from the centuries, Mister Poe and Mister Hislop are not so far apart, and, do you know, despite the objections that I expect from almost everyone, possibly including Mister Hislop, I say the two poets are partners in the exploration of the Universe. “Eureka,” cried Archimedes; Eureka, wrote Mister Poe; Eureka! Mister Hislop, fare thee well, as you explore the world of deep space.

 
Amazon.com Author Robin Ouzman Hislop
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E.M. Schorb

 

 
PRIZE-WINNING BOOKS
BY E.M. SCHORB
Books available at Amazon.com
_______________________________________
 
Dates and Dreams, Writer’s Digest International Self-
Published Book Award for Poetry, First Prize
  
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First Prize
  
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‘Library of Beautiful Hybrids’ Poetry by Ian Irvine Hobson

 
Songs of Interstitium is an online site created by Australian born poet, writer and academic Ian Irvine Hobson. I should start by telling the reader to this introduction. that I gather “Interstitium” to signify “inter-states” and that the writer in question is seeking to promote an idea of an emergent genre, as dimension for artistic creativity – “Transmedia”. The artifice he has chosen, as a literary device, is quantum physics and the multiverse, into it he pours, as in a cauldron, all the elements, science fiction, mysticism, metaphysics, mythology, archetypes, surreal fantasy, quantum physics and biological evolution to emerge with an art form in an age that finds itself transformed by the computer sciences and the digital media, the age of singularity.
 
A mysterious box containing 5 manuscripts of novels, a series of poetics and a DVD from a sect with super secrets from another world is discovered in an outback of Victoria, Australia transported from a parallel universe. The writings are created by poet and writer Rowan Sweeney, where later we find in the transcripts of the novels, Rowan Sweeney is himself a time traveller in other parallel universes, where he encounters his doppleganger likenesses living in alternative realities.
 
The theme of the multiverse, as fictional mode, is developed from the theory of physicist Hugh Everet, to explain the phenomena of the interference pattern and super position created through the double slit experiment in particle physics. The theory went into abeyance for nearly half a century until revived by quantum physicist and computer scientist David Deutch. Although, if I understand him correctly, in the two books he’s written on the subject, Fabric of Reality & The Beginning of Infinity, the idea of time travel and telepathy between parallel worlds is not a feasible reality. Nevertheless,Transmedia genre, launches us into the age of singularity, artificial intelligence and the digital media, where art and creativity must find there own special voice in an age otherwise transformed by the quantum computer .
 
In Songs of the Interstitium in Book 3 – Poetry Sequence from ‘Library of Beautiful Hybrids’ we are introduced to 3 series of poetics, all created by the fictional Rowan Sweeney. One is almost reminded of the Portuguese poet Pessoa and the many fictional identities he assumed to write poetry through. As I mentioned before, all the elements outlined previously in the first para, pervade these poems with tremendous innovative, imaginative literary force and mood. There are brilliant constructions, where the poet grapples with an understanding of consciousness and the history of archetypes that underlay it. However, I must admit, that for sheer force of lyricalism, where the poet depicts the shocked mind of Darwin, as the concept of evolution dawns on him, I personally am most drawn to the
” Coral Reverie: Voyage on the Beagle, The Darwinian Poems ” series.
 
But to return to the genre theme of Transmedia, David Deutch writes in The Beginning of Infinity his view of the importance of the art form in the emerging age of singularity in these words:
 
“This, too, is not as different from science and mathematics as it looks: poetry, mathematics or physics share the property that they develop a language different from ordinary language in order to state things efficiently that it would be very inefficient to state in ordinary language. And both do this by constructing variants of ordinary language: one has to understand the latter first in order to understand explanations, of, and in, the former.”
 
I can only add, that personally, i’m not an adherent to the multiverse theory in quantum physics, but that nevertheless it has been one of the great philosophical enigmas of the last and present century.
Editor Robin Ouzman Hislop
 
Book Three – Poetry Sequences from ‘Library of the Beautiful Hybrids’
 
alchemicaltreeinfluenceofheavens17thc
 

 
Ian Irvine Photo
 
Ian Irvine is an Australian-based poet/lyricist, fiction writer and non-fiction writer. His work has featured in many Australian and international publications, including Fire (UK) ‘Anthology of 20th Century and Contemporary Poets, ’ (2008) which contained the work of poets from over 60 nations. His work has also appeared in a number of Australian national poetry anthologies, and he is the author of three books and co-editor of many more (including Scintillae 2012, an anthology of work by over 50 Victorian and international writers and poets). He currently teaches writing and literature at Bendigo TAFE and Victoria University (Melbourne) and lives with fellow writer Sue King-Smith and their children on a 5 acre block near Bendigo, Australia.
 
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Richard Lloyd Cederberg Reviews All the Babble of the Souk

      ALL THE BABBLE OF THE SOUK

A personal reaction/essay from:
Richard Lloyd Cederberg
________________________________________
 
Initially the title of the book puzzled me. ‘Babble’ and poetry seemed antithetic. But Robin’s usage of the title in the first poem – ‘Africa North’ -seemed to be hinting at something vaster in scope. “All the babble of the Souk, men over there, over there women. All the life of the planet, so little part of it that I breathe” This made it seem like a sweeping vision from a finite point of view. After reading various poems, I saw that the poet’s work was alive with surreal vignettes; visual snippets patched together to create a montage of life’s mysteries, colors, and characters. This particular observation was supported (I felt) in a verse from ‘Lucky Hat Day’. “The world is a patchwork quilt, stitched up to the hilt its seams, which we quarter in our dreams, on which our edifice is built.”
 
Soren Kierkegaard said: “The poet can understand everything, in riddles, and wonderfully explain everything, in riddles, but he cannot understand himself, or understand that he himself is a riddle.” At that point I knew that attempting to dissect the poet’s work in a grand intellectual context was the wrong approach. Besides, I wasn’t qualified. Instead I would read it as if I was sitting under a waterfall and offer back the stimulating way the content was washing over me. First and foremost… I purposed for a better grasp of the title. Something that made sense to me. With that I felt I would have a better chance at apprehending the contents. So that’s where it began.
 
Book titles, for me, are kinda’ like figureheads on the prows of wooden sailing vessels; a face on it, but not the power of it. This title seemed to be corroborating all the chaos and noise humanity makes living their lives and hawking their philosophies and products in a global marketplace. Certainly this obvious interpretation had some merit, but it didn’t seem (to me) to affirm the books ultimate scope. Still curious; I dug into the definitions and discovered something intriguing. There was one definition that stood apart and became a key that started a trickle of water for me.
 
BABBLE as an intransitive verb: to talk enthusiastically or excessively. To utter meaningless or unintelligible sounds. To make sounds as though babbling. As a transitive verb: To utter in an incoherently or meaninglessly repetitious manner. To reveal by talk that is too free.
SOUK… a marketplace in North Africa or the Middle East.
A fuller definition: A marketplace in North Africa or the Middle East.
A bazaar. Also: a stall in such a marketplace. It became personal here.
STALL… A small area set off by walls for a special use. A booth where articles are displayed for sale. The water began to flow stronger now.
 
The Poet’s Stall. You can call it whatever you want but each of us has one. Mind. The seat of the faculty of reason. The poet’s singularity of cogitation. Senses. Telescope. Microscope. Binoculars. Tools. Oxymoron. Pun. Idiom. Simile. Onomatopoeia. Hyperbole. Alliteration. Personification. Metaphor. A verse from ‘The Pine at the Summit’ offered a glimpse into the process. “My mind’s a needle scratching sky, bleeding a sigh of shadow, as through tension of this extension, I summit into ascension.”
 
All poets require a safe [set apart] place they can enter to assimilate and interpret the world around them. A place where they can observe the mysterious vastness of life without being overwhelmed by it. I could visualize, then, a place set apart in the midst of a noisy-plagued-global-marketplace, where the poet could readily analyze, understand, and express the essential (and non-essential) elements of all that was being observed and felt; locally, from his travels, and in a broader global context. Robin’s poetry found the cracks in my defenses then and began hydrating me. Each reading, after that; the content became more meaningful.
 
As someone once said: “It requires wisdom to understand wisdom; the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.” Many say that poetry is an [almost] dead art form. I’m not so sure about that now.
 
For me personally: the essence of profound insight is simplicity. If poets only cater to poets then a part of the ‘souk’ is deprived. Some say poetry is painting with the gift of speech. If this is true, and I believe it is, then Robin’s work, to me, evokes, M.C. Escher, Robert Raushenberg, and perhaps (at times) even Salvador Dali. Readers take caution. Robin is a poet’s poet. A reasoning philosopher who sees life vastly different than most, and, who channels much of what he sees and feels into his work.
“As he affirms in ‘Clear Drops of Water’: “To write is my possession – a given time, a given space, a given self, as if it were an alchemy that could turn blood into wine, we’ve different tastes nature or me.”
 
‘All the Babble of the Souk’ is not simple. It is woven with riddles that, when resolved, offer the reader a singular critique of life from a safe perspective. Robin’s poetry may never be fully grasped by me. It is esoteric. Intriguing. Surreal. Adventurous. Philosophic. Brainy. But even though it demands carefully considered thought to fathom; it still flows as pure water in its declarations, imagery, and suggestions. Poet Hislop’s unique work has heightened my appreciation for the written word.
 
1. I am once again thankful for the depth, beauty, and mysteries of another’s poetic invention.
2. I discovered another beautiful view of the One Tree.
3. I have purposed now to get out of myself (more often) to discover another’s perspective; something quite essential for the poet and creative writer I’m thinking.
4. I can see an aspect of metaphor now that I’ve never known.
5. Poetry is NOT dead.
 
JEG HILSER DEG Robin Ouzman Hislop
 
Richard Lloyd Cederberg
Author/Poet

 

AUTHOR PIC (Large)

 
August 2007 Richard was nominated for a 2008 PUSHCART PRIZE. Richard was awarded 2007 BEST NEW FICTION at CST for his first three novels and also 2006 WRITER OF THE YEAR @thewritingforum.net … Richard has been a featured Poet on Poetry Life and Times Aug/Sept 2008, Jan 2013, Aug 2013, and Oct 2013 and has been published in varied anthologies, compendiums, and e-zines. Richard’s literary work is currently in over 35,000 data bases and outlets. Richard’s novels include: A Monumental Journey… In Search of the First Tribe… The Underground River… Beyond Understanding. A new novel, Between the Cracks, was completed March 2014 and will be available summer 2014.
 
Richard has been privileged to travel extensively throughout the USA, the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada, the Yukon Territories, Kodiak Island, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Petersburg, Glacier Bay, in Alaska, the Azorean Archipelagoes, and throughout Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Holland… Richard and his wife, Michele, have been avid adventurers and, when time permits, still enjoy exploring the Laguna Mountains, the Cuyamaca Mountains, the High Deserts in Southern California, the Eastern Sierra’s, the Dixie National Forest, the Northern California and Southern Oregon coastlines, and the “Four Corners” region of the United States.
 
Richard designed, constructed, and operated a MIDI Digital Recording Studio – TAYLOR and GRACE – from 1995 – 2002. For seven years he diligently fulfilled his own musical visions and those of others. Richard personally composed, and multi-track recorded, over 500 compositions during this time and has two completed CD’s to his personal credit: WHAT LOVE HAS DONE and THE PATH. Both albums were mixed and mastered by Steve Wetherbee, founder of Golden Track Studios in San Diego, California.
 
Richard retired from music after performing professionally for fifteen years and seven years of recording studio explorations. He works, now, at one of San Diego’s premier historical sites, as a Superintendent. Richard is also a carpenter and a collector of classic books, and books long out of print.

 
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Miriam C. Jacobs Reviews All the Babble of the Souk

miriam c jacobs
 
 
Poet Robin Ouzman Hislop’s first full-length collection, All the Babble of the Souk, is appropriately titled. With a remarkably consistent ear for the market’s noise, for “[t]he broken lights of the bazaar/spangled] with glistening promise/in the eyes of the dusky beggar …” (Laminations in Lacquer ) Hislop’s poems, many of them cinematic-style montages of sounds and images, show us the metaphoric souk of the world, on the beach or in the street, its glitter, its sadness, its ragtag glory:
 
“pets, flower pots framed captive in a moment
outside the house of the painter, a robot
in chains with an alms bowl” (“Departures”)
 
These impressions are not confined to the scenic. Individuals, too, flash like rich arcades:
 
“there is not time enough to love
before the tram whisks her away
a creature of the costume of the moment
in a parade of parts.” (“In the fish-eye window”)
 
So marked is Hislop’s interest in the external world, readers may long for a glimpse of the speaker. It comes rarely. There are one or two musings on the phenomenon and surprise of feeling oneself age, the odd disjointing of it, but otherwise these poems proclaim their perhaps unique impersonality. In “Laminations in Lacquer” we sight what is, perhaps, the poet, but in third person, one who rises, observes, and then folds in at last with the “throng”:
 
“Below the rift of its eye
the sealed beak that will open
gleams on the lee …
in a room that roams without corners
he must rise with a chalice of blood for lips of shades
where the vertigo edge of the flower distills the dish
together with the quantities of immeasurable throng
on watery groves billowing with ivy bowers
sprung over hidden lairs of concealed hoards.
Night begins and the dogs draw nigh
scavenging for scraps
yapping at the walker’s naked ankles
in the dust of unknown alleys.”
 
Among other reoccurring themes – shadows, mirrors, the moon – is Hislop’s interest in physics. In a variety of contexts he reflects on time and infinity, the imagination-daunting galaxies, quantum theory and space:
 
“Man cannot live on myth alone
he shall earn his soil somehow, between
the Big Bang, the Big Slam ….”
 
One admirable quality in this work is that souk places us firmly in the precariousness of the current moment in history. These poems are exactly right for the age, and who we are now, those of us born 1945-1960, with our particular view of past and present, our grasp of the sciences and technologies that have overtaken the known world in our lifetimes.
 
“The world is a patchwork quilt,” Hislop concludes in “Lucky hat day,”
‘stitched up to the hilt its seams/which we quarter in our dreams
on which our edifice is built …”

 
 

 
 
MIRIAM C. JACOBS is a alumnus of the University of Chicago and teaches college writing, literature and humanities. Jacobs is the editor of Eyedrum Periodically, the art/literature journal of Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, Atlanta. Her poetry has appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, The East Coast Literary Review, Record Magazine, The Camel Saloon, Bluestem: the Art and Literary Journal of Eastern Illinois University, The King’s English, and Oklahoma Today, among other publications. Her chapbook of poetry, The Naked Prince, was published by Fort!/Da? Books in September 2013.
 
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Adam Levon Brown Reviews All the Babble of the Souk

robin2705
4/5 Stars
 
Review of All The Babble of the Souk
By Robin Ouzman Hislop
 
I had the great pleasure of reviewing “All the Babble of the Souk” by a very experienced and talented poet, Robin Ouzman Hislop.
The book is split into the two parts, The first part is “All the Babble and the Souk 1” and is very short in comparison to the second part, “All the Babble and the Souk 2”.
 
Reader beware, this poet is on a different level. Do not read this if you don’t want to engage your essence in a series of fantastic life/mind changing events. Many of the poems herein push the boundaries between science and philosophy and develop a sense of doubt within the reader. These poems carry you on a cosmological, philosophical journey that is sure to leave you speechless and thinking on deeper frequencies.
 
Part 1
 
These are just a few of my favorites from part one.
 
From the very start with the poem “Africa North,” Hislop captures the reader in a vivid description of a thriving cityscape filled with many sensuous sensations. The poem “Passage” is a psychological view into the mind of the modern human. The poem, “Non Linear” focuses on the inception of homo Sapiens and how the system we created dwarfs us into a microcosm of everything around us.
 
Part 2
 
The second part is filled to the brim with intellectually stimulating pieces that deserve at least a second read through. The poem “Accident” grasped me and made me think of past events that I thought were lost forever.
The poem, “Slant” is written in sections such as, “on the Bus” and details philosophical messages the author has gained through these experiences. I very much enjoyed this poem as it is raw, delves deep into the mind of the poet and presents the inner workings of the brain.
The poem, “Edge” touches on what I believe is our greatest political and existential battle; human extinction.
 
Conclusion
 
This book changed my perspective on the human experience. Highly recommended to anyone who is into philosophy and isn’t afraid to take a step in a different direction.

 
 
 
 
Adam Levon Brown (ii)
 
 
Adam Levon Brown is a poet and author residing in Eugene, Oregon. He has one published poetry book out, Musings of a Madman, which is a collection of poems made to enlighten and inspire the reader. Adam attributes his love of poetry to the many great poets he discovered in the school library during his formative years. He enjoys listening to political hip hop music and is a political activist himself.
 
 
My Author Page: www.ctupublishinggroup.com/adam-levon-brown-.html
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Review Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Richard Vallance
An appeal to poetry critics to review The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium
 
Since its publication in November 2013, The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium, has generally been met with positive reviews from purchasers and poetry reviewers. As editor of the anthology, I for one freely admit that several authors display considerable talent, while some, I believe, are exceptional sonneteers who have penned poems, which may one day be viewed as masterpieces of the genre.
 
There are also scores of sonnets in languages other than English,French, Spanish, Chinese, German and Farsi, while the English sonnets run from page 15 to 135, comprising 60% of the total in the anthology, sonnets in all other languages span pages 142 to 222, accounting for the remaining 40%.
 
A number of reviewers have already accorded decent marks to the anthology and I sincerely believe that most new critics and informed readers will be able to dispassionately review the anthology. On the other hand, it is equally incumbent to flag at least a few of the sonnets which display considerable talent and especially those which you, as a reviewer, consider to be jewels, pièces de résistence.
 
I am not saying that those of you poetry critics who read English only should feel discouraged from reviewing the anthology. Far from it, it is generally taken for granted that the majority of literary critics of English literature are allophone English, given that English is almost universally considered lingua franca of the world. Of course, I also welcome bilingual or multilingual critics, who are well positioned to critique the remaining 40% of “foreign- language” sonnets.
 
I entreat those of you who are poetry critics to give your dispassionate opinion of the anthology, what we are looking for is an objective appraisal, insofar as it is humanly possible. It does not matter whether you find the anthology below average, average or superior.
 
Regardless of your overall appraisal of the merits and demerits of this anthology, I shall send you all your own copy of the PDF version. Finally, it would be beneficial to the editors and sonneteers alike if you would rate it on a scale from 1 to 5. Also, the Editor who is at present publishing this appeal, every reviewer should bear this in mind, has promised to publish any of the reviews providing they are fair minded & objective in at at least two of the three sites herein listed: Motherbird.com, Artvilla.com or Poetry Life & Times.
 
I am grateful for the endorsement of this appeal by Robin Ouzman Hislop of Poetry, Life and Times. Richard Vallance
 
The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes http://vallance22.hpage.com is also available in hard cover, soft cover and PDF formats from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Chapters.ca, among other online outlets.
 
The home page of the author, Richard Vallance, now a well-established professional historical linguist of ancient Mycenaean Greek, is Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com, which has become the premier site for research into Linear B on the Internet since its inception in 2013. An internationally acknowledged historical linguist, in 2015 he was published in an international European conference proceedings and in the prestigious annual, Archaeology and Science (Belgrade), and is set to be published later this year in at least one other major international venue for historical linguistics. He is also an active member of one of the world’s most professional research sites, academia.edu, where you will find his page at https://westernu.academia.edu/RichardVallance/Papers

 
 
 
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Reviews. All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop

All the babble of the Souk
all the life of the planet &
so little part of it, that I breathe

 
 
souk1
 
 

…on All the Babble of the Souk

Gary Beck – All the Babble of the Souk is an elegant journey through both foreign and familiar climes. Anything but babble. Time and space bend in mysterious mists and mechanistic voyages. The poems pulsate with languid images that add to the wonder of travel to exotic places.

Scott Hastie – A collection of real substance that is long overdue. Robin writes with impressive depth and across a spread of philosophic stimuli that he makes uniquely his own. You do not have to travel long before you trip over killer lines, again and again… This is fresh, original and mature work, grown from one special creative soul’s well seasoned experience. Robin truly has a voice that is his own and it has been worth the wait to see it flower…

Robin Marchesi – High time this great Poet was properly in print. His Poems resonate like the work of Cavafy and Gibran. They are deep and revealing, resonating in one’s inner self. This book will stimulate your metaphysical being. Robin’s Poetry opens you to questions about who you are…. Essential reading……

R. W. Haynes – Robin Ouzman Hislop’s All the Babble of the Souk grips elemental tangles with wisely wistful authority, making a claim both for the adequacy of animate language and for erudite perception. Counterpointing the abstruse and the inescapably basic, these poems draw upon a power that surprises, engaging the reader in the poet’s heartfelt conversation with a tradition and its diverse voices, including T. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. Hislop’s retro-modernist recovery of vision argues for a refreshed perception of poetic possibility and a turn from the infinite regress of the verse which echoes the empty sophistry of twentieth-century language philosophers. Music, with its syncopation, minor chords, pauses, accelerations, jingles, knocks, and elegiac phrases constitutes a crucial part of the essence of this splendid collection.

Ian Irvine (Hobson) – The metaphor of the ‘marketplace’ or ‘bazaar’ – symbolic in this collection of public spaces generally (both physical and cultural/mediatised) – launches this remarkable collection of poems by a poet, editor and creative thinker of international significance. The ‘souk’ is a place of trade, chance meetings, overheard conversations and communal eating. This collection also links it to our post-post modern state of life in the face of cultural globalisation. However, rather than theorise key aspects of our world we are invited to explore them instead as states of being – with joyous and anxious dimensions. As the poet/narrator mingles, observes, samples and digests (in poem after poem) a colourful array of stimuli – sensorial, relational and intellectual – we gradually feel our perception of life and the species crisis/moment deepen and expand. The melancholy grandeur of the human predicament slowly comes into focus – largely through the poet’s gift of empathy. A wonderful selection of poems updating for the new millennia themes mulled over by the likes of Baudelaire (in Paris Spleen), Apollinaire (in Zone), George Oppen (in Of Being Numerous) and many other great 19th and 20th century poets.

Marie Marshall – The eternal curse of a poetry editor is that she can seldom read for pleasure alone. For example, when I come across a phrase in Robin Ouzman Hislop’s new collection of poems – this phrase, ‘a beehive of allies’ – I find myself wondering whether he meant ‘alleys’, instead of just reading on and enjoying the ride. Because Robin’s poetry is often just that, a ride. The same poem that brought me up short in editor mode, contains lines like in little stanzas like

    The hag in her rags begs her bag
    holding all shadows to account.

each a new thought after a pause for breath, or so it seems, each with an image that sparkles, almost with effrontery. That’s how I like my poetry – image, sound, and bare-faced cheek.

As the images pile up, or maybe I unearth more as I drill down, discovering depth in the poetry, the typographical puzzles pile up too, and I begin to wonder if they are deliberate cantrips on the poet’s part. I hope they are. I hope they are, because I want to trust the poet’s intentions. I know he’s not your average Internet Joe, but a man with a mean, keen pen. He knows how to play, how to make free, how to brew poetry:

    Riding along in our dream machine
    our virtual reality all but a scream
    no exit
    blood on the wind screen, faithful Fido’s gone
    the machine’s a mess, – every where’s a gas.

    A trickle through a diaphanous sheen
    a thin crust peels, roll the dice
    a question of ethics, the cost of life.

Y’know, somewhere along the line, Ezra Pound and John Cooper Clarke rolled dice for this man’s soul, and I can’t say who won. Maybe he walked away laughing while the bones still tumbled, soul intact. I hope so. He has the measure of our suburbs, seeing how

    gleamed cleaned cars
    the phallus of a Sunday afternoon

let us (you’re here too, and I have morphed into ‘we’) catch our reflection in that polished surface, wondering how to measure the depth of the shine. Meanwhile

    Danger, Deep Water, Keep Out

As if we could. There are caesuras in this collection, but they almost seem accidental, as though titles, page breaks, and stars merely interrupted a flow of thought momentarily. The collection has the feel of a single work, as though the poet sat down, started at the beginning, wrote the middle, and stopped at the end. See? The golden arches of a fast-food outlet, the taunts of a cuckoo, big Sunday words like ‘bifurcation’, ‘pheromone’, and ‘olfactory’, all rub shoulders, and rub along. We ride. It’s the same ride all the time, but the scenery outside the window shifts, and fellow passengers come and go. Occasionally we get off, but only to stretch our legs

    As we celebrate
    life lies dead on the table
    we eat it.

and then the ride starts again. But a short offering like that reminds me that on the return journey I must insist on long enough to read each poem on its own… and I’m by myself again, closing the book at its final page. Second impressions:

The poet is aware of the shape of his work on the page, of its concreteness. The poet knows when to be serious and when not to, and he knows when to muddy the water of each with the other. When he says ‘Watch my stick’, you hear ‘This means you!’ The poet can make a dream return from the rubble of artifice. I know poetry when I see it.
 
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