Richard Lloyd Cederberg Reviews 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



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