My review of Robert Vaughan’s books: “Microtones,” “Diptychs+Triptychs+Lipsticks+Dipshits” and “Addicts & Basements” is live on MadHat’s Drive-By Book Reviews at:
Unlikely Books ~ 2014 ~ 88 pages ~ Poetry
Marc Vincenz brings us his sixth collection of poems with Beautiful Rush, an elegiac, poignant and sparkling collection of twenty seven lyrical poems that seduces, tantalizes, mystifies, testifies, and transmogrifies. Symmetrically balanced and impeccably arranged, this subtly complex book is organized into three nearly equal sections: A Bitter Taste Of Midnight, Voices Breaking, and How To Die Of Beauty; with two of my favorite poems, Not the Last Word and Cassandra’s Smoke serving as a prelude to the first section. Kimberly L. Becker provides the Foreword and j/j hastain, the Afterword. Exquisitely restrained cover and interior art (Moth) is rendered by Inga Maria Brynjarsdottir.
The sections are linked by a titular series of six poems, Beautiful Rush (I-VI) that appear in each section. The mysterious muse, Cassandra, also unifies the collection with appearances at the beginning, the end and at various places throughout the book. Repeated references to a lost daughter leave me wondering and aching with a vaguely definable and tender sadness.
Marc Vincenz invokes the spirits of other poets, philosophers and places through various poems in the collection; August Kleinzahler and William Burroughs in Small Change, Emily Dickinson in Cassandra Knows How To Die Of Beauty, Joseph Campbell in A Bitter Taste Of Midnight; and dedications to Katia Kapovich and the city of Zug, Switzerland in Rembrandt’s Last Fruit and Almost Tax Free, respectively.
The poems in Beautiful Rush are part celebration, part excavation; ode to beauty and contemplation of the temporal through the inexorable passage of time. They are spiritual litanies and totems of rag and bone, evocative of the shaman’s rattle and drum. “Ancient bone music/ skin songs/ and marrowed incantations.”
The poems in Beautiful Rush are sometimes not of this world and at others very much of the earth; with sensory language that sets the imagination soaring ~
(from) A Bitter Taste Of Midnight
The resonance of reality.
The rapture of being alive.
The meaning of a flea.
A moth without a light bulb.
An aphid without a rose.
What can’t be known.
(from) To Watch A Flower Bloom
To watch a flower bloom
or a cloud fatten may nearly impossible
but how do you distinguish movement away
from or toward the growth of billowing form
and, at other times, leaves your toes rooted firmly in the ground.
(from) Cassandra’s Smoke
in a park,
where old fools battle
crickets and compare,
where dogs shit and rut,
where artists seek the ears
of trees and pansies
and crumbling brick –
(from) An Abundance Of Islands
–a language called stillness, a child
called language. Grandfather’s war scars.
Mother’s tuberculosis—coughing at the edge
of the bed, a jackknife, stray sock, a cup
of ice cold tea. Lemon rind. And she, paper,
the ancient carbon backbone crumpled.
This may sound naïve, but, until recently, I never truly appreciated, or really tried that hard to understand the various ways poets experiment with formatting their poems as they appear on the page. I thought it didn’t matter that much. If the poems were meant to be read aloud anyway, then the visual effect of the formatting seemed to be a moot point. However, lately, my thinking has really changed. I think my attitude toward this has changed perhaps most significantly while reading Beautiful Rush.
Beautiful Rush is a beautiful book to read. The poems in Beautiful Rush are meticulously and deliberately formatted and arranged. Words, phrases, idioms and lines all dance around on the white space of the page. The intentional formatting affects how the poem reads off the page, enhances its timbre and rhythm and brings it closer to the way it might sound when recited aloud by the poet. Enjambments and line breaks play a critical role in both the visual and aural effect, like sight reading musical notation.
Beautiful Rush is not a “one and done” read. It actually has kind of an operatic quality. It reminds me of listening to an album (we used to call them that back in the day) over and over. It takes a few times through for the music, lyrics and meaning to really start to sink in. The poems do not reveal their meanings on the surface. They are multi-layered, multi-textured and subtly nuanced. An invitation to a personal scavenger hunt for classical and linguistic references that challenge and stretch the imagination.
Poetry is a multi-faceted thing. It’s about language and meaning, song and music, image and interpretation. Poetry offers the reader a glimpse inside the head and heart of the poet, but also an invitation to look inside one’s own head and heart. A good poem leaves room for interpretation and the opportunity to make that poem one’s own. And, like climbing to the top of a hill, the more you see, you realize the more there is to see. The poems in Beautiful Rush deliver on all counts.
“you hear voices
in hard labor,
and behind closed rooms,
you hear something like knowledge,
clearing its throat.”
Marc Vincenz ~ Biographical Information
Marc Vincenz, born in Hong Kong, is Swiss-British. In addition to Beautiful Rush, his recent collections include: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees (Spuyten Duyvil, 2011); Gods of a Ransacked Century (Unlikely Books, 2013); Mao’s Mole (Neopoiesis Press, 2013), and a meta-novel, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013). A new English-German bi-lingual collection, Additional Breathing Exercises was released by Wolfbach Verlag, Zurich (2014); a book-length poem, This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations, annotated by Tom Bradley is forthcoming in April 2105 Lavender Ink; and a new collection, Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Books, 2015). He is the author of several chapbooks, has been published in dozens of anthologies and journals and is also the translator of numerous German-language poets. Marc Vincenz is Executive Editor of MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters’ Review) and MadHat Press, Contributing Editor for Open Letters Monthly and Coeditor-in-Chief at Fulcrum: an anthology of poetry and aesthetics. In addition, he is Director of Evolution Arts, Inc. a non-profit organization that promotes independent presses and journals.
As always, I encourage you to go directly through the publisher.
Available from Unlikely Books at www.UnlikelyStories.org
My review of Cinéma Vérité: poems/sketches/parables by Sam Rasnake (A-Minor Press 2013) is up on MadHat Drive-By Book Reviews.
Reviews of Bound By Blue and Her Skin Is A Costume by Meg Tuite
Featuring recent books by Meg Tuite in this edition of MadHat’s Drive-By Book reviews.