Composing Nature Decomposing
- Ken Belford (Author)
Decompositions. Talonbooks (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Mark Truscott (Author)
Nature. Book Thug/Literary Press Group of Canada (purchase at Amazon.ca)
Reviewed by Travis V. Mason
Occasionally, a book appears for review that wants not to be reviewed. Ken Belford’s Decompositions, full of stanzas dense as rainforest understory, and Mark Truscott’s Nature, full of lines sparse as recently clear-cut fields, want not to be defined as poetry in any conventional sense. They ask, in uncertain terms, to be something else. So, what is a reviewer to do?
Don’t trust these books. One is full of words that trace erase a life’s singular trajectory, the certainties of certain narratives. One is full of space that circles words the way a doughnut (a cruller, say) makes holes. One reveals nature’s cruelness. One, crueller, revels in nature in/as language. One ’I’ wonders
Who / says good writing conveys / a strong sense of place? One ’I’
wonder[s] / if the / space this / creates will / hold it. One, you see, decomposes lyric narrative, prosing it up, posing alternative ecological paradigms as personal history. One, you see, lacks composure, belies a calm position from which to, say, essay. But lack, you see, is the point.
Decomposition is nature: history.
One (Decompositions) ends strong, if strong eludes autobiography to plant seeds of arboreal wisdom:
the cottonwoods grumble / and the spruce whistles its gliding pitch in the time
before a rain. Decomposition: consider
the consequence of reading / a poem to be
unpredictable. Suspect your previous dependence on tools and compose yourself:
It seems / the acceptance of risk is a science. But risk, you see, is the point. What risk? Poetry and plants. Words and weeds.
Poetry can make something more / dangerous than its parts, and it’s probably
a good idea to burn the GE crops. To
leave words, as leaves leave trees bending in wind, to
cause to be, and come apart again, is what we’re left with.
Nature is decomposition: entropy.
One (Nature) ends strong, too. If strong strengthens what comes, ineluctably, before. Before: words afloat in/as doughnut holes, making space for/as nature as/in language.
Others bother with specifics. Numbers are specific, though. Specific what? Exactly. During:
that this and
that that inhabit, generally,
that page and
this page. Not this page. Not that page, either. Pay attention. After: Words
abut on the way to forming and failing. Nature?
One is Laurel. One is Hardy. One is Bob. One is Doug. One is Fat Man. One is Little Boy. One is dangerous. One is danger. One is dang. One is da. One is fort. One is fortress. One is buttress. One is but.
Many critics seem to be / disembodied drovers teaching / image recognition. One suggests:
these words risk composing
the thought that
to falter. Don’t trust this review.
- Long-Lost Worlds by Dermot McCarthy
Books reviewed: Collected Poems of Raymond Souster: Volume Eight 1991-1993 by Raymond Souster, No Sad Songs Wanted Here by Raymond Souster, and Close to Home by Raymond Souster
- A Mediated/Meditatory/Mediating Life by Sneja Gunew
Books reviewed: Mothertalk: Life Stories of Mary Kiyoshi Kiyooka by Roy Kiyooka and Daphne Marlatt and Pacific Windows: Collected Poems of Roy K. Kiyooka by Roy Kiyooka and Roy Miki
- Literature of Belangini by Clara Joseph
Books reviewed: Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poetry by Kwame Dawes, Canada Geese and Apple Chatney: Stories by Sasenarine Persaud, and Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears
- Poésie, nature, lumière et tranquillité by Jean-Sébastien Ménard
Books reviewed: Mémoire d'ombres by Jéremie Leduc-Leblanc, La lune en mille gouttes by Bertrand Nayet, and Cette lumière qui flotte by Hélène Leclerc
- Trusting in Movement by Susan Drodge
Books reviewed: Autobiography by Marilyn Bowering, Debriefing the Rose by Mary di Michele, Dream Museum by Liliane Welch, Garden of Sculpture by Elizabeth Brewster, and Wading the Trout River by Carolyn Zonailo
MLA: Mason, Travis V. Composing Nature Decomposing. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 May 2013.
This review originally appeared in Canadian Literature #210-211 (Autumn/Winter 2011), 21st-Century Poetics. (pg. 250 - 251)
***Please note that the articles and reviews from the Canadian Literature website (www.canlit.ca) may not be the final versions as they are printed in the journal, as additional editing sometimes takes place between the two versions. If you are quoting from the website, please indicate the date accessed when citing the web version of reviews and articles.