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Monday, 7 March 2005

Douglas Barbour - Fragmenting Body etc

I recently finished reading a book of poems by Douglas Barbour called "Fragmenting Body etc". Douglas is from Canada. The book is published by Salt which is a joint UK / Australia press (read an excerpt here) - the output from Salt over the last few years has been impressive.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Douglas used a game to devise the input lines which give the inspiration to the poems in the first section. He chose a set of random lines (with the help of a die) from a book and then used these to start the poems which were written quickly over a month. The poetry in the collection is marvellously challenging. Douglas really tears apart the language and reconstructs it. One is taken one a journey through the roots, parts and segments of words -really getting inside the language which he uses.

This poetry is probably the closest I have seen to e e cummings without descending into pastiche. Douglas takes the experimental approaches of cummings and makes the interpretation totally his own.

One is left with the feeling that every part of the syllable, the word, the line and the spacing is so carefully thought through. This is a poet totally in command of the language he works with.

These are not just poems that play with language though - they also work hard with emotions, and depict events and narrative.

All in all, a read worth making!

The project '50 Books in 2005', is a little behind schedule. But not irretrievable.

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