Wednesday, August 23, 2006



Film Poems by Mark Lamoureux
(Katalanché Press, 2005)

My starting point: chapbooks don't often satisfy me. Usually, they're used as repositories of work until the author publishes a realbook. That's okay, but I like to see more sense of mission in the little trifle. This chapbook fulfills that sense for me: it int a little trifle. Its 26 pages of poems present an artistic vision, an operative dynamic beyond simply anthologizing some new work. It goes like this, paraphrasing the introduction: the poems were written in a darkened movie theatre whilst movies played on the screen. Okay, I call them movies, Lamoureux calls them films. The poems are reactions to these visual experiences, tho that sounds terribly bald and flat. Let's say that the movies instigate the poems. Lamoureux writes in the intro that these poems “attempt to mimetically simulate the experience of viewing the films”. From those words I glean that this chapbook embraces a working method. This book is a project. The name of the film and filmmaker labels each poem but, sooth to say, I know next to nothing about any of these films. Forgive my ignorance. Stan Brakhage is the only name I've heard of. Luckily, these poems don't depend on one's knowing the films (Lamoureux states that he'd seen none of the films prior to writing the poems), tho obviously I cannot declare how much a knowledge of these films could expand my experience of the poems. I learned from Jackson Mac Low that keeping method of production in view compels the reader to see the poem's landscape differently. A matter of watching the machinery at work [he said with metaphor at MIXED setting], without any suggestion that this is the right way to make poems, only that they arrived in this fashion. The poems here make use of tab space, tho I assume Lamoureux handwrote initially. The generally short (one or two word) limes derive a vertical or columnar reading from this mechanically strict spacing. You can read phrases horizontally, but vertical phrases also appear as your eye runs downward. The shorter poems are more mysterious. Here is a short one (complete).

Jeff Sher
“Turkish Traffic"

               Brillo                               rhumba

               flytrap                               motion



All six words are set off so that you can stare at each one separately. Each line can be read as a unit, each column can be so read. The first two lines form a unit, the last two lines form a unit. Do you see how these various simultaneous readings work with and against each other? Each poem reveals a compelling intersection of phrases in different directions. I found the poems tuned to Brakhage's films most interesting for, being longer, they allow myriad reading. Little narrative thrust occurs in the writing, certainly no discernible plot. I hesitate to say the poems are impressionistic, that suggests a blurriness that doesn't accurately portray the reading experience here. The words seem detached from determination but exist firmly, um, on their own, tho weighted and swayed by the various interrelationships evident in the poem's field. These poems invite a fairly radical reading but what's especially nifty, I don't feel radical in reading so. With this book by Mark Lamoureux, we (the readers) get to play with possibilities. How these short word-bursts inhere together suggests an enlarged minimalism. Pretty neat. Further neat is the chap's presentation. The cover is a wavy corrugated cardboard based, says Lamoureux, on the cover design of an issue of Film Culture. The pages are glossy, and gleam whitely (like a cinema screen!!!). All very thoughtfully done, with that tasty hint of the homegrown. I appreciate the adventure evident thru out this book, as well as its meditative calm. Sure, I would recommend this book: pleasures abound.


Allen Bramhall has published one book, Simple Theory (Potes & Poets Press, 2002), maintains an electrifying blog called Tributary, and shares a birthday with Herman Melville, Jerry Garcia and Lt. William Clark.


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