You know that feeling when you open up a book, and let’s say you’re in a mood-need to rearrange the possibility of your future through the possibility that this book (of poems say) will hold a distance between poetry and writing (between writing and living) as yet unrealized (or merely forgotten) by the habits of approach you’ve been confined to these last horrible months… and you open up this book to the thrill of this anticipation of an unrecognizable or rediscovered future (which is, of course, like all futures, necessarily the recorded forms of a past) let's say, and standing in the library stacks a little overheated because you’ve yet to remove your winter coat, and your right shoulder blade pinches a little from the weight of your bag, and so you remove your bag and coat (placing coat upon bag on the library floor) and open up this book whose library-bound spine reads “WELCOME TO THE TWELFTH LETTER OF…” opening it up to somewhere in its middle and you encounter the following spread (?):
On the left we see a poem or three poems written in three languages and on the right a compelling xerox-grainy portrait of a young man’s face (the face of a young Browning? naa…) with a black geometric figure below his left eye and the name “CHILDE ROLAND” printed below it (Browning’s? Shakespeare’s? hmmmm). Looking back to the poem it begins with an epigraph from Smart and then seems to follow on in that same Smartian (or Spicer’s martian) kinetics, that foremost figure of a compulsion of movement from language arranging it forwards. “we devised / in the arms / of our / l-shaped room / or galaxy / a world / that was / parallel.” Here is our encounter with a future, a para-allel-el world, a world beside our world devised from the el-shaped room within it, an alternative form of our world that has mutatively emerged from it to occupy its same position, the biblical god “el” to be entered through this twelfth letter of the modern Latin alphabet “L” (in English, French, and Welsh), itself a descendant of the 12th letter of the Hebrew alphabet (“lamed”).
But let’s forget ourselves for a second and get back to you. You know that feeling when you’ve just opened a book in the kind of mood you were just in, hungry to be in the future already with that new mind figured within you, and you’ve just encountered a suggestively interesting few lines in this book, but wanting the holistic feel before you really hit the particulars you flip a few pages backwards towards the book’s start and refocus there (?). But here’s where something that’s never happened before to you happens, or maybe this is the way it always is when you’ve read as many books of poetry and borne as many futures as you have, but this time it’s finally for real. The page-spread you’ve turned to is, upon inspection, the same two pages you were looking at before, and so you flip again, but there it is again, every two pages the same. LOL (chuckle), right? In a pleased confusion you flip to the title page that reads:
So here it is by concept, a trilingual sound poem repeating itself throughout the whole book, repeated so that “the parallel worlds described” may be shared by detaching from the book as many pages as needed (how many pages must I detach to sustain the sharing of this world?). I’ve scanned it all here in full to be downloaded, so please print up and detach as is necessary.
The poem’s author is “Childe Roland,” a French-Canadian writer living now for many years in Wales, and author of who knows how many books including the intriguing Allo Bell (which I’ll relay more about momentarily), Boat Bottle Book (which in the words of the author “attempts to combine the elements of a ship in a bottle with those of message in a bottle through the agency of a paper boat, which can be entertained as the ultimate message in a bottle since the request of all who are stranded is for a ship to rescue them.”), Ham & Jam, A Pearl, and six of clubs (these three recent titles you can download for your own reading pleasure), and really many others (worldcat has 36 titles listed).
I’d absolutely love to see Allo Bell, which Roland apparently unsuccesfully submitted as a graduate thesis and is described by Marius Kociejowski as “compris[ing] a hand-written 'allo', the loops of the l's covering a hundred pages, a hundred pages being the minimal length prescribed for a thesis, and… visually suggestive of telephone wire and bookishly reflective of the author's argument that one of the characteristics of literature is that it takes up space.” Do you any of you have a copy you’d lend me?
Roland’s range of work is various and includes collaborative digital installations (such as his and photographer Susan Coolen’s Astres | Stars | Goleuadau), collaborative explorations of human / non-human intersections in work such as Coolen’s and his’ The Rivers Project and his related choral composition Dee and Deeper, as well as publicly inscribed poems such as this poem sculpted into a wall on Pier Street in Swansea:
The only US publication of his work that I know of is the couple of compelling poems appearing in Slope’s Contemporary Welsh Poetry issue in 2001, but perhaps there are places I haven’t looked, and/or regardless, perhaps we should change that.
As you’re reading this, I hope you’re doing well today. I apologize also for the lag between posts, there hasn’t been as much time as I’d like for what I’d like to do these last six months. Hopefully this post will get me rolling again, and I’ll able to manifest a future in which the scans and write-ups of the pile of books on the little bookshelf next to my desk emerges in this space.
Lewis Freedman moved to Madison where he’s starting a brand new reading series (OSCAR PRESENTS) with Anna Vitale, Andy Gricevich, and Jordan Dunn. He’s most recently the author of Hold the Blue Orb, Baby (Well Greased, 2013) and Solitude the Complete Games (Troll Thread, 2013), the latter a collaboration with Kevin Rydberg. non-symbolic non-symbolic non-symbolic is due out sometime soon from Minutes Books.