Taken for Granted
(167pp, £12, Knives Forks and Spoons)
The Last Museum of Laughter, D.E. Oprava
(178pp, £12, Knives Forks and Spoons)
reviewed several books from Knives Forks and Spoons Press in recent months,
and there have been a number of occasions during that process when I wondered
if the publisher ever actually reads what is being published under their imprint,
or if the idea of editing what they publish ever occurs to them. Encountering Dylan Harris's Anticipating
the Metaverse, I
find myself not only asking the same questions, but also giving in to the
temptation to ask those questions here, for you to share the joy.
So, Cutlery Press, do you? And does it?
What pushed me to ask the questions here is not so much the poetry in this
book, though that's dire enough, but the essay by the poet that acts as an
"afterword". It's so rife with bad grammar and downright poor
writing that if I were the publisher I'd be ashamed to lend my name to it.
You want examples? Here are
"there has been many
"devices to be
"So I did considered
"So are them
Do they need an editor or a proofreader? Or both?
As for the poetry, it's about as well-written as the essay. By the time I
reached page 36, and came up against "they might get banned", I
figured a poet (I use the word lightly) who decides that the word
"get" is a good choice here does not deserve my time. Someone might
enjoy reading bad writing, but I don't.
And as for the "science" the poetry is apparently about - parallel
universes and future worlds and such like - well, I'll stick to not watching Star
Trek, I think.
Given that the writer spends most of his explanatory essay
"explaining" how he has abused and misrepresented his source
material, and admits to not aiming for any kind of accuracy (or, as he puts
it in his inimitable grammar: "I make no pretence of any effort of
accuracy")... well, I'm out of here.
Except there's one more Knife and Fork and Spoon to do. And here it comes.
And then it will all be over.
Oprava's The Last Museum of Laughter is another hefty volume as slim volumes of
poetry go, but at least the guy can write. But it could be that he writes too
much. We shall never know.
The book stands out for two reasons. Reason One is the quite appalling
illustrations, that fall somewhere between Aubrey Beardsley on a bad day and
doodling by a teenage girl who likes Aubrey Beardsley on a bad day. They are
best glossed over.
Reason Two is that the poems are arranged in columns, thus (I choose at
the nightly on offer
picture show snow
last scene cars
on our bedclothes fanning
walk into fields
through the door where
into daylight thinks
I would love to
tell you which poem this is from, but I lost the page while I was fighting
with Word™ to get the format right. Whether or not Mr. Loydell will be able
to get the format right I have no idea.[He can't - Ed] But since the poems
are all part of sequences it's of not much importance. This kind of form, or
similar, has been done before and, to be honest, much more interestingly.
John Ashbery's "Litany" springs to mind, but that's in another
poetry universe. Here we have fairly straightforward poems that read without
difficulty going down each column. I'll be honest, they do throw up some pleasing word-partnerships by reading across
from one column to another, but I think the results are a mixture of the
intentional and the accidental. In short, the form seems largely unnecessary,
especially stretched to patience-breaking-point over almost 200 pages. But
the guy can write, and though I'm not massively interested in what he does write (every page I've looked at
- I've not read it all; who has the time? - seems somewhat domestic and lovelorn) you have to give
credit where credit is due. This is, after all, a Knives Forks and Spoons and
other assorted cutlery publication, and that one of their poets can actually write is not something to be taken for
© Martin Stannard,