Monday, 27 February 2012

Mming In the Undertow: Burnside Marginated

As an experiment in downloading books onto my smartphone, I recently tried a sample of John Burnside's Selected Poems but the poem I received came in a strangely mislineated,truncated version that nevertheless threw up quite a few bizarre felicities:

ke me, you sometimes waken
rly in the dark
inking you have driven miles
rough inward country,

eling around you still
e streaming trees and startled
nd summered cattle
winging through your headlamps.

metimes you linger days
on a word,
single, uncontaminated drop
 sound; for days

trembles, liquid to the mind,
en falls:
ere denotation,
mming in the undertow of language. 

 It's like the subtlest of Burroughsian cut-ups or linguistic remixes, maintaining most of the original text but subverting it into something more disjunctive and wrongfooting than Burnside's rather predictable manner (beautiful in its way but predictable all the same) allows. Perhaps this could be extended into a kind of Oulipan procedure; it could be very easily done by drawing a line with a ruler down through a poem at a given point, rather like an invasive margin... a margination? A clipogram?

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