JEFF HARRISON Reviews
Opening and Closing Numbers, by Anny Ballardini
(Moria e-book HERE and print version HERE, 2005)
Anny Ballardini's Opening and Closing Numbers contains poems of the absolute lyric, wherein words, prompted by art, by the movement of lines, speak the nature of poetry. CONVENTIONS (page 91. All page numbers refer to the e-book. All poem titles in this review are fully capitalized -- see the title of the poem on page 154 for an indication of the reason. All quotation marks and virgules in this review are mine) has the lines "no one will ever / be able to understand reincarnation / as poets do." The adjacency of "poets" to "as" admits the reading of a simile into "as". What, then, is "reincarnation as poets do" (virgule intentionally omitted since this is not a quotation)? Poets write poems; the word "reincarnation" is again a word in a poem, whose words re-appear upon each reading with a different meaning, definition, or nuance. No one will be able to understand a poem's word because such a word is never-ending. A poem is a soliloquy that never ends (page 101).
In ANOTHER CROWN (page 103), the anaphora "another" not only reveals its following word to be another instance of that particular word from the English language, but reveals duplications within the poem: another word with an "o" for its second letter (poem, book, job, Monday, holiday, poet, no); another word with an "a" for its second letter (canvas, day, tax); another word with an "i" for its second letter (night, nightmare, life, timetable, wish); another word with an "e" for its last letter (nightmare, life, timetable); another word with twin letters (cross, book, school, week-end, offer); another word with an "o" for its penultimate letter (book, school, translation, job); another word with an "a" for its penultimate letter (canvas, tax, Monday, holiday, refusal); another word with an "e" for its penultimate letter (poem, poet, prayer, offer, yes); another word beginning with an "m"; another word beginning with a "cro"; three lines, "another holiday", "another refusal", and "another week-end", mirror a seven-letter word within the line (and the beginning of each line mirrors the beginning of each line); etcetera.
One could write copiously on all the poems in this collection, and much more could be quoted, but there is no geometry of the lyric, and the reader of this review may, immediately, read the book online. I cannot resist adding that WHO CAN UNDERSTAND CAMELS (page 85) reminded me of Kenneth Patchen, nor resist quoting these words from the long poem that opens this book: "illusions dragging stagnant waters slowly / to surface" (page 7); "rules of instinct" (page 7); "gods were sensitive to symbols" (page 8). One more irresistible: in SIZZLING ALIVE (page 23), the one-line stanza "read and write" is an enactment, word by word, of an inseparability of writing from reading, with the inexplicit, unentangled "and" a perfect bridge (to write, while reading, these three words is to see for oneself). The poems in Opening and Closing Numbers reveal poetry through words, which is one of the Earth's rarities.
Jeff Harrison reviewed Allen Bramhall's Days Poem in Galatea Resurrects #8. Recently, he has poems in Otoliths. You are welcome to visit Antic View.