reconstructions [rekonstrukce], Joshua Calladine-JonesThe house style design for tall lighthouse: 3/4 of the jacket is grey with a lighter beam of grey shining down from the top left corner, wider as it goes. The bottom quarter is a white band, on which the name of the author appears in black lower-case over two lines. The name of the pamphlet is in slightly bigger red lower case, right justified inside the lighter grey 'beam' just above the white band. A phonetic version of the title appears inside square brackets and smaller, just below the title and inside the white band.

tall-lighthouse, 2022    £8.00

Distractions, attractions

Reconstructions (the sequel to Constructions, the poet’s first pamphlet) has two distinct parts. The first, Rekonstrukce / Reconstructions (fragments of online conversations), holds poems with interesting one-word titles.  ‘Decisions’, for example, begins:

There are still paths and roads
we have not been.

There was something I wanted
to say you, something I saw.

We had visitor today,
but he just wanted to go, go home.

Those missing short words (‘to’, ‘a’) catch the attention, give the impression of a non-native speaker struggling slightly with the language. The piece ends with the suggestion of paths still to tread, roads still to follow. The fragmentation and disjointed, awkward-to-read-out-loud language in the lines between unsettle me. Similar distractions operate throughout the Part I sequence.

But the disrupted language of these voices ‘speaking through a second-hand language’ actually mirrors disrupted lives lived in a time of ‘global uncertainty’. These poems don’t sing.

Instead, they challenge the reader, offer them a part to play in the reconstructions. Isn’t it true that the more abstract language becomes, the more freedom the reader has to infer meaning? (I’m close to being distracted by thoughts of poetry and the role of readers.)

A gentler form of disruption appears in Part II, Restaurování / Restorations (artefacts of Bohemia). This time it is all connected with the in-line gap, the visible pause. There are also attractive narratives and images, giving an illustration of the power of place. These poems are like video shorts set in the landscapes and townscapes of Prague.

In the first (‘Kleinseite, night’), I like the image of ‘burning / candles in undusted apartments’, of ‘a tilted lamp’, and the ‘three flights’ of stairs. The line ‘We know too much about the night’ intrigues, stands out. I can’t, however, stop imagining some word groups without their visible pauses. I’m drawn to these lines in ‘vltava polaroid # 03’:

The river’s a line, a limit. Its centuries
never shift, never change direction. How
can we imagine             the certainty
of that ceaseless course?

Reading them, at first I ignored that formal pause after ‘imagine’ (for me, it spoiled the flow). But now I begin to feel differently — there’s a power within it!

Enid Lee