Wednesday, 7 May 2014

a short review of "thorn corners"



last month, my good friend stephen nelson sent me a copy of his amazing book thorn corners. the title is a poem in itself, the two words fit together so perfectly.

this is very much an indication of how the book goes on. from the visual poem on the front to the very last poem , it is a seemingly effortless example of how you do successful minimalist poetry. utterly flawless.

the introduction is an accurate and suitably poetic  summing up of the nature of minimal poetry. i'm flattered to see that he mentions what i said about minimalist poetry.   what he says is best summed up in this quote:

in the minimalist poetry i enjoy, words are magnetised, drawn together sound and shape. you may say letters are like particles- if they are moved by the observer, the poet, something unexpected. the reader is given a quantum surprise.  syllables are atoms, pulled together by sonic vibration to form molecules which combine to dance unusual patterns across the page.  

i couldn't have said it better myself.

the poems themselves are untitled and written in a clear font in a large print. they feel more like concrete poems then linier poems, but then great minimalist poems blend the visual poem and the linier. stephen's style of visual poetry, with the exception of the occasional foray into dirty concrete, is generally clean concrete, and it is something he is a master of. he knows exactly how to use the white space of paper. he has an instinctive beautiful (yes beautiful) feel for how to make the words float in space.

 this clear connection to clean concrete is very much apparent in thorn corners. there is a nebulous quality, and yet a solidity. there is a cleaness and a visual character to these poems. 

the way words and word fragments strike off each other at times and at other occasions connect is a big feature of these poems.  the re-arranging of word fragment, the use of homophones and deeply visual puns are expertly used in a prodigious display of poetic skill. there is not a foot put out of place. everytime i read it i find somthing new. it really is an amazing book and i would certainly recommend getting yourself a copy. or two. share it around;)


ranging from the witty to the profound, these poems are amazing. stephen is one of the greats, and this is a seminal tome. mark my words.


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