02 July 2015

Poetry Thursday - some of Ian McBryde's "slivers"

Something a bit different today - formally innovative - from an avant-garde, Canadian-born poet who lives in Melbourne, Ian McBryde. (Thanks for Alison Mary for pointing me in his direction.)
To give a context to these works, I have unabashedly plundered Ali Alizadeh's 2006 review of McBryde's 2005 book "Slivers" in the Australian magazine Cordite Poetry Review. The rest of this blog post is one long quote.

All the poems of this collection are one line long; that is, in each case the poem terminates where the line ends. So, in effect, these lines seem more like maxims, or at least lyrically condensed 'kernels of wisdom', than poems as such. ... They are ... provocative and suggestive without explicating their pernicious provenance and becoming obvious. For example:
How black is your magic? Call me.
Relax. I kept my word, burned the negatives.
If your blood begins to streak her teeth, leave.
And (this reviewer's favourite):
Christmas, Santa's claws deep in my throat.
On the other hand, such a minimalist and quotable style runs the risk of becoming quotidian at times, and some (but thankfully only a few) of the poems/lines in Slivers simply describe a natural phenomenon and only function in reference to a 'poetic' reality. For example:
Heart-frantic, a puppy runs after the car that dumped him.
Night gathers across the river.
All in all, the poignant pessimism of this poetry does not only relate to the 'darkness' of its themes and content – violence, abandonment, death, and in a few instances, the apocalypse – but also precisely to its minimalism and prosaic/linear nature.

An interview, containing his short poem Serpentine, is here.

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