Monday, 4 September 2006

First books: B (overdue post ...)

Rosemary Stretch is not Betsy Fagin’s first chapbook, but I think her first since coming to England from the US. It’s ten small numbered poems, arranged in a variety of stanzaic and visual groupings; tonally calm and abstract they seem delicate, veiled reflections on identity and a life, gathered and dispersed, rigid and fluid, linked and alien (‘venusian’) -- every relation seems fissured with ambivalence expressed in profound (yet remarkably unobtrusive) linguistic ambiguities. Documentation and sensation are among disturbing reassurances of one’s particular existence. There is also a wider world of the broken, despised, downtrodden, inflicted, of devastation and contempt, in which the self is implicated (‘everybody / regimes oppressive from time to time’) and I don’t know why these large complications don’t overbalance the poetry’s subtle poise but they don’t.
This is lovely work and impossible to excerpt, but happily it is on the web: the book is part of the Dusie kollektiv project, a poetry publishing project that embraces web distribution while retaining the potential for the book as a material medium, that often characterised small press poetry. This one is cleanly and carefully designed by the poet for its modest production niche, with a sweet cover image (for which, and the title, I don’t have a reading). I like it that a stapled A5 pamphlet adopts the Japanese format (i.e. the fold is at the fore-edge) which gives body and opacity without needing special paper. I think that there’s a small (numbered) print edition, and otherwise it’s PYO, to read on- or off-line, in print or not, as you like, for free.
Available at