Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Poetry Book of the Year - 2014 - 'Bone Monkey' by Janet Sutherland

Janet Sutherland - Bone Monkey
The first mistake I made with this highly creative book was to assume, upon seeing the title, that the subject matter had a Pagan slant. Nothing wrong if that were the case. It isn't though. It is far more than that and although the central character is a Loki like, Puckish deity, one who flits in and out of mortal life, the poems featured here have more to do with humankinds spectrum of frailties. From murder to sex, from death and rejuvenation to caring for a dementia sufferer.

Like any book of poetry, unlike a novel, reading it from cover to cover, poem by poem, is never near enough to grasp all of what's been said. I read this through in just over one day. I then returned to it again for the next few weeks. Re-reading and fully digesting each jewel like word.
With my woefully inadequate education, one that saw me being expelled following some riotous behaviour, I wouldn't know a sonnet from a punnet. Okay, one has rich delicious fruit in it and is eaten by attendees of Wimbledon. The other is something poets do and that Will Shakespeare was famous for. In this book we find those sonnets nuzzling up against free form poetry. The range is expansive, the emotions found - expressive.
 Janet's spritely dance leads us down paths dark, dim yet often exhilarating. Her poetry is sure footed and nimble, weaving as it touches upon a series of linked ambitions, threaded conceits, one central theme  revealing what we already know - mankind is an odd lot.

There are several poems that really thrilled me - 'Red Hibiscus' with its twisted psyche. Bone Monkey being as devious and deviant as a Bone Monkey can be. 'His Exposition on the art of memory,' which carries a distinct melancholic feel to it and finally 'Fire Fleet and Candle Light' an ode to death, dying and the ultimate end of life.

It is the delight in the words that both mesmerise and impress. The sheer exuberant zest for the poetry's spectrum as the colours cast engage the reader, tugging you close, inviting you to feel those rhythm's, urging you to uncover meaning but most important of all to enjoy what in reality is some fine poetry. 

Janet Sutherland was born in Salisbury and grew up on a small dairy farm. She studied English at University College, Cardiff, before moving on to gain an MA in American Poetry at University of Essex.  Since 2001, she’s lived in Lewes, East Sussex and as well as pursuing her writing, Janet works part time for Relate in Brighton.

Friday, 19 December 2014

On The Other Hand of Time by Penn Kemp and Friends

Poor Penn struggled somewhat with posting this so asked if I would help. So I did. Here is Penn, with help from Brenda McMorrow (Music) and Bill Gilliam (Piano).....

Penn Kemp is a Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, and sound poet who lives in London, Ontario, Canada. Penn earned a degree in English and literature from the University of Western Ontario in 1966 and received certification as a teacher. Subsequently she taught high school English in Timmins and North York for several years and in 1988 she received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship to complete a Masters of Education degree at the University of Toronto. In 2010 Kemp became Canadian London's first poet laureate.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Mistaking of Silence by Doriandra Smith

Doriandra Smith is an artist, poet, musician . She writes some incredible prose and was once a member of Avant Garde band EXP. She creates some simply amazing garments and makes some beautiful music along with Eriijk Rêssler in a band they call Balkh. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Five Prephases + Chuck the Duck by Antares


Part One of a 5-part tone poem written by Antares (the entity formerly known as Kit Leee) at age 22. Resurrected 42 years later as a spoken word project with funky background music by Shpongle & laptop visuals courtesy of Windows Media Player. Thanks, Russell Duffy & Steven Schwarz, for causing me to dredge up my paleoanthropological past for public display. It gave me orgasmic pleasure. Poetry may well be the ultimate form of solitary vice :)

Prephase I

Hail to the power of the printed word
All hail the permanency of the press!
Ah but how evanescent the jewel vision in the mystic lotus...
This is the chronicle of a bubble bursting in the ooze of Chronos:
A word portrait of an old man's waste matter.
And now, for the plot.

Prephase II

There is no furniture in my mind.
I can't sit down anywhere for a smoke.
I can't find a couch upon which to confess my complexes.
I am not at home.
Home as we know it is where the heart is.
My heart might be in my stomach.
On a transplant bench.
On a valentine card.
It ought to be on earth
We're ready to believe that much.
Well, my ears are on my face, and that's a fact
As far as I can tell.
But my face, I've left it in too many mirrors.
Mirrors are easily broken.
Like faces.

Life, feces, forces, lost in the crack of glassy doom
At the back of the classroom.

Prephase III

My mind is a white room.
A black light shines.
Weird phenomenon.
My soul is a darkness
Where a white light dwells.
I am day and night.
In a night and a day one could be all Time.
Which isn't much.
Because Time runs out.
Sandflow beachtide hourglass soon gone.

Here's Part Two...


Prephase IV 

Size is no measure of volume.
One is not less than many.
When one becomes many, many become small.
When small, one is a little too many.
And many are none at all.
Oh what a sudden wonderment you underwent
When you discovered the truth about digits.
Never have you felt dumber or number
Knowing that there are giants and there are midgets.
And that size is no measure of volume.

Here's something else to ponder:
Mass doesn't really matter.
The key to the mystery
Is velocity.

Prephase V

Watch where you put your foot.
Don't let the firm ground fool you.
The land yawns.
Your tracks are sucked into the canyons of undersea

You are here by courtesy of the Cosmos, Inc.
Don't insult our presence.
Your absence of faith is a truancy of the spirit.

But hold it!
It's a bit too late
To quit.

[Written in 1972. First published 1994 in MOTH BALLS, scatological & eschatological poems collected over nearly 30 years]

In 1970, I wrote this bit of doggerel never suspecting that 20 years later, this sort of staccato rhyming by free association would explode into a global art-form called rapping or hip-hop. The title was inspired by the late Charles E. Gaunt III, my drama teacher, nicknamed Chuck the Duck.

Of course, I can't lay claim to having invented the rap form. According to Wikipedia, "rapping can be traced back to its African roots. Centuries before hip hop music existed, the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Such connections have been acknowledged by many modern artists, modern day griots, spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics."

Anyway, 'Chuck the Duck' was turned into a hip-hop number by the versatile and talented Rafique Rashid - back in the days when we used to hang out together. He still has the original 4-track cassette master. The cassette dub he made for me has yet to be digitized, so I can't upload it online.

A few years later, in 2001, the prestigious Australian a capella Song Company, under the baton of Roland Peelman, actually premiered 'Chuck the Duck' as a six-part polyphonic fugue in Kuala Lumpur. 

How on earth did this happen? Roland Peelman had commissioned Malaysian avant-garde composer Saidah Rastam to contribute an original work to the Song Company repertoire - and, of all things, Saidah decided to use 'Chuck the Duck' as the libretto for her astonishingly witty masterpiece. 


how now laotse maotse cowboy tung taodung
need ye grow olde if you never been jung
why sigh fakeye take a break snakeye
recall being born forget to die
bake a cake stay awake cry for joy
O! blakeye

shout aloud jump about fall on your rump
pigs roast slowest that are most plump
cook a plot write a book rob a crook run riot
keep quiet look tired don't sleep go on diet
smart tart twit her twat now what
don't fart

big ben beats crime pleasemen cheat time
peahen eats grime in the pigpen
bleed greed breed weed feed your mind
go blind grow grass quit the line feel fine
smoke a toke don't choke vat 69's no joke
ice floe nice shmoe g.i. joe gung ho
edgar poe deathrow

now bow say grace meow ratrace great place powwow flatface
tightroped pooped pope wallops trollops in the craptrap
rubin rude rapes bob hope & raps the cape of good dope
grunt grope chomp chow chew bread it's homemade
dull as lead get weighed your shell be shed
your soul be free so flee fly flow fled
go right ahead mister blister my sister
who can resist her she's such a sprightly maid
but don't sue me if you don't get laid

the mayor learned his trade well
the player played the part swell
they made their cellmates burn in hell

blue petulance expels true flatulence propels
your dad poohpoohs smells bad he's a cad
sells your mum to alan ladd
mum's glum dad's sad you're mad we're glad
platypus flatus & oedipus status are to blame
shame shame! captain ahab's bladder's inflamed
and jacob's ladder can't take the strain
it'll crack that's a fact you'll land smack whackthwack
on your backside & spill your brains
what a pain it's insane too much! you'll be crippled & lame
as such you'll need a crutch:

maurice suggests you stop your game
horace requests a change of name
but boris professes you'll be the same

everything's done where's the fun? there's none
every song to sing's sung every pun to spin's spun
honkytonky monkspunk anybawdy anynun granny franny
jurisprufrock's earthquacker in hanniballoon crunch
sanny franny petticrockers crisco crackers
for cannibaboon brunch
think of gin sink in gum drink some rum dream of rintintin

all's fair balls square scream in fright uptight delight
in lassie's breath & aleph beth
henry stanley & livingstone's bones
huge rods huger cones buck jones &
being alone with death

flint splinter frog frigger
dread fred be bold don't enrol feel blue
see red lose your head regain control
prayers said so stay in bed
flip flop plip plop gyrotop wobbles
stops & drops down manhole &
polecats tapdance on tiptoe
with pipco tadpoles
click clock bloody cop with hickory cock
goebbels shit hot in the pit of the pot of
the ruddy rotten ruck
fuck ladyluck!
get sucked
get pluck come unstuck
let yourself be struck
chuck the duck


As featured on this beautiful double CD from the Song Company released in early 2014.