Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Geoffrey Squires, Lines (Shearsman)

Shearsman has recently published Geoffrey Squires’ new poem Lines as an e-book (available for free by navigating the previous link). I personally have been pretty dubious about e-books, preferring the feel of the real printed book, as physical object, the crispness of the page, the smell of the paper and binding, and all of that. But this is one publication which is really suited to the format, so much so that I think something would be lost if it were not read onscreen in PDF form. When you set it up in the Single Page view, fitted to your screen, it almost seems like the lines (the title is apt) shoot across the page, and the effect is great.

The lines themselves are sentence fragments which seem to fall back on each other, echo themselves, sometimes becoming two, occasionally three or four. I could almost liken it to sculpture. They are sculpted, meant to be seen with the eye just as much as they are meant to be read with the brain. But the chopped-up construction makes the brain take them in differently than it would in reading “regular” poetry.

I can’t say that I understand what it all means, and probably it doesn’t mean much in the literal sense because what we are presented with is essentially detritus, what is left of sentences when they are broken into their constituent parts, with many of the less pertinent words discarded. But what seems to be going on is that Squires is somehow trying to break through to the structure of language, rather than using language to describe an idea, or descry an image, etc. At the same time it is poles apart from the more nonsense aspects of some experimental/avant-garde poetry out there, and maybe surprisingly to some it is quite pleasant to read. To give a short quote would not do the work justice, so I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

1 comment:

Keith said...

It's like getting Robert Lax in a chat room or something.