Tattered by Magnets

144 poems, divided into 12 parts, each composed of 3 unrhymed tercets with unusual spacing within each line. The blurb says it was originally written to be read, which I’m guessing would be uncompromising, but I cannot find a recording.

I am half way through. What is being said, as well as what is incoherent, seems a matter of judgment, as nothing is entirely straight forward unless you read each block of text in a line as a single unit that does not combine with the others. Nothing seems to be going on exactly, but I have the faint sense Tim Allen is on holiday somewhere exotic and surrounded by people he hates.

The “ideogram” is mentioned in passing; I would consider every poem an ideogram, generated with surrealism shaped into a consistently soft song of rough units (incorporating all content softly into itself), about his own evil. Quite why Tim Allen is evil, I’m unsure about.

This only became clear by the third chapter (2:12 ends “curios”).

At first I thought that each spaced phrase was naming something, even with single words like ‘in’ or ‘and’, but there are also directions. I then suspected it was formed around the tension between a confession – one which draws you in – and the construction of a personality – due to fragmentation: “I’ve heard those lies before”. On those terms, there is a sense of a lament about his world: “Capitalism exists only behind the eyes”.

I then got stuck asking how anyone engages with language. I guess you just make your connections then get parodied: “the quiet mind is as bouyant as a plucky little craft escaping trees [2:3]”

It was only when I was happy with the world he was constructing that it appeared to be shaped around himself, his fleeting thoughts about himself – who is asking you to look – in different settings, and how that comes off as quite sad: “the turtle looks fed up”.

There is less humour than in the last book of his I blogged about (“snotty dawn” made me laugh), but I probably prefer this Tim Allen.

The last word is ‘diamonds’. Are they “forever” or “a girl’s best friend’? If there is a lightness here it is not gratuitous, but at the axis of low and high culture; make of that whatever.