Hilltop Press, 2004 - £1.75
THIS PAMPHLET, IN HILLTOP'S 'ACE DOUBLE' FORMAT, is actually two chapbooks in one. It contains only two poems, each with its own foreword by Steve Sneyd and reading from opposite ends of the pamphlet.
Bitter-sweet—an apparently random collection of largely unconnected words that nevertheless appear to obey some of the rules of sentence formation— represents the extreme fringes of the ‘Martian Postcard Home’ approach to sci-fi poetry. How would a visitor from another planet interpret the incomprehensible barrage of sensory impressions that our world offers? Perhaps like this:
Vivid counterbalance, adhesive stars:
Thus another terrible night tossing knack weathers
Oscillating from east to west = unspeakable zenith
My metaphor-detector went into overdrive—not an unpleasant experience for anyone who enjoys reading poetry.
Monday Morning Over the World offers a more conventional narrative, seeming almost lyrical by contrast. Michel, Sneyd tells us, was an SF writer of great promise who succumbed early to bitterness and alcoholism. His poem holds glimpses of a glittering future dominated by technology: “awakened by carillon chimes,/ (prescribed by science,/ a decibel to every cubic foot)/ the humans plunged/ to white corridors and conveyer belts”.
Again, this is a poem of glimpses and fragments, and the course of its story is hard to interpret. It’s most interesting as a brief snapshot of the work of a troubled genius.
This pamphlet offers a reasonably priced introduction to the sci-fi poetry genre, not least through Sneyd’s informative, though occasionally impenetrable, forewords.