Intense World Fortress, Adele Fraser

Eyewear Lorgnette Series, 2017  £6.00

Doing something different

Adele Fraser’s long poem sets out to do something quite original, I think. We’re told on the back cover that the poet is ‘neurodivergent’, and communicating across difference is clearly central to her project. The poem is a monologue spoken to, it seems, a partner or lover. ‘You bungler...’ it starts. Then, a few lines later:

I figure you fancy yourself
a fairytale prince. Well? Am I right?
Ha. Witless white-knight-fantasist,
more like.

The poem opens up about how its ‘speaker’ feels, and honestly and openly asserts perceived differences: ‘you reside in a world with no crowds / or detail’, for instance. In this way, arguably, it tries to find a language to speak to, through, interpersonal barriers and frustrations. Some parts of this I find more compelling than others (’Look, life fucks me without latex’) but it is memorable. And I think works. On its own terms. As an inner monologue made public.

I think it serves a purpose – which, I guess, ultimately, is all about asserting our right to be different, and ourselves. Above all, there’s an overriding sense, for me, of an attempt to communicate. Which is itself interesting:

You think        I do not care;
in fact,   I care too much.

Perhaps the most recurring theme is a rise to the charge of coldness. It’s not that, she seems to explain, it’s self preservation:

When I feel more like a foster child
carrying the world’s weight
in a back-breaking rucksack
which no one else may touch.

Overall, I sense a struggle to make a relationship work – even if that means dragging it, screaming and kicking, into the light:

you tell me ‘seize the day’
though it    is seizing     me.

I applaud that effort.

I could have done without back-cover comparisons with TS Eliot and Frank O’Hara. But the work has its own integrity. Why mince words, or limit them?

Most of all, I enjoyed it for being different. A curious page-turner.

Charlotte Gann