Saturday, 27 February 2010

Top Three 'Concept' Pamphlets of 2009


I suppose it's too late for 'Best of 2009' lists but I thought I'd put a note about these because good poetry can always use more publicity. I'm a huge fan of the poetry pamphlet being used as a platform for conceptual ideas that might not be sustainable over the course of a full book, or would be otherwise regulated to a 'section' in the middle. My enthusiasm for these ideas comes, at least in part, I think, from the feeling that while 'the poem' is a respected artform, 'the poetry collection' is not - that is to say, poets are very keen to make an individual poem work in all sorts of interesting ways but think less of the artistic possibilities afforded by the grander scale of the whole book. Snowballing of themes and images is one thing; making the whole artifact into your canvas, to be perceived at once as a whole, is, in my view, quite another.

1. The Reluctant Vegetarian by Richard Moorhead, Oystercatcher Press
Reviewed by me here
Sample poems here
Buy from here

Moorhead uses not vegetables but the words denoting vegetables and ransacks each of them for flavours, uses and meanings. Each poem is laid out in dictionary format and many of the definitions are simply sumptuously worded. Mm.

2. Corpoetics by Nick Asbury, Asbury and Asbury
Reviewed by me and others here
Buy and sample here

Asbury slices up corporate manifestoes gleaned from websites and rearranges them into stumpy but hugely inventive epigrams and light verse. Pointed and artful.

3. The Terrors by Tom Chivers, Nine Arches Press
Reviewed here
Buy from here

Chivers, who published his debut book only months after this delightful pamphlet, presents a series of imaginary emails to inmates of Newgate prison - some unjustly judged, some maniacs. History collides with the technological age - thunderously good.

1 comment:

What's so only? said...

Jon - thanks so much for the review and the post. It was a great series to write, I'm delighted you liked it so much!

Richard