Thursday, 14 April 2011

L | Commentary | lettrism and the choka of graphemes

feelings like standing
in grasslands, plateau afield

this day windless and whipping

feelings of love spells rising
plying, pillion-high senseless
yet defiant –

levitate, hover: in stasis

ceil tear caught on camera
portage ice
noir light from behind

We've published two of Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé's chapbooks now; the Pessoan-influenced 'Let Dinggedicht Speak' and the gorgeous vignettes of 'In Memoriam To A Marionette'. Looking back through all of his pieces, there's always the same duality - on first sight, you've got the cold precision and frequently simple beauty of the words themselves, which sometimes appear like a more selective version of the random spatter-poetry of the unconscious (Ginsbergian, as one Silkworm said), so much so that if Desmond didn't leave a few clues fully on view, you'd have practically no idea of the hidden, immensely complex games he's playing. To take it as Impressionist work, relying upon different mental self-positionings to appreciate the smaller mechanics and the larger art, would be horribly trite. But I'm going to say it anyway. And, in fact, just did.

The short poem 'lettrism and the choka of graphemes'...yeah, it's no exception to this theory. Would we, the reader, have cottoned on to the exact nature of the radical formalism of the visual symbols and the 5-7-grapheme Japanese form of this poem if the poet hadn't let us in on the play with its title - and as importantly, how many contemporary poets could have titled their work 'lettrism and the choka of graphemes' and made it sound appropriate and fascinating rather than unbearably pretentious?

It's a joyful, informed playfulness with the base components of the language that runs all the way through his work - as with the unmentioned word 'pylon' in this poem, which is felt around linguistically "plying", "pillion-high" and symbolically with the repeated sense of height, standing structure, remaining (mostly) firm beneath the pressure of air-movement.

I still find myself uncertain of, though in love with, the final three lines, which are disquieting, evocative and in their own way, lacking in any grander meaning. But in just ten lines, every single word picked with the greatest of care, Desmond reminds us of just how lucky we are to have published his work on Silkworms Ink.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jon: You just made my day. I really want to lick you right now, right this minute. Thanks for the lovely reading of my poem, and for always being so good about my work. Silkworms Ink is just too awesome. Unbelievably sharp aesthetics, a cool sense of invention, and a butt-spanking wallop of chic!