Sunday, July 20, 2008

Commentary to Seiren Song by IBPC judge Tony Barnstone from IBPC August 2008

Yes, I know that this poem seems to descend into gibberish pretty regularly, and that it has absolutely wild shifts in register (from the contemporary diction of "your fucking tongue I know is our joint antenna twisting" to the overwrought alliterative diction of "fishman of fleeting littoral, falsehood of starry fishmen" to the archaism of "O untrousered apprishns of Phnicia / thy mermids ist none so faire--"). But, wow, it's fun. And I like those twists of diction, shifts and frictions of reference and rhetoric. Finally, I like the author's great sense of humor, as he blends nonce words in with the archaisms. I don't know what "outspankered prismes" are, nor what it means to bare one's "neutic flutic combes," but the newness and oldness and weirdness of the language are such that, frankly, I don't care. I can guess. The poem seems to be a Frankenstein monster stitched together from odd literary corpses and the bloody pieces of the author's imagination, written in the ideogrammatic method of that crazy old fascist Ezra Pound. But, unlike far too many of Pound's Cantos, this monster's got a jolt of life to make its limbs twitch. Watch it rise from its slab and wander the countryside until it's pulled in by the siren song of the old man's violin. --Tony Barnstone

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