A Mediated and Partial Zone, Betsy Porritt
Guillemot Press, 2022 £8.00
Feeling my way through sound
I can’t read this pamphlet in my customary way: it doesn’t make enough normal sense to me. Just when I might be managing to form a conventional impression, the words wrongfoot me again. Quickly, it’s only the words themselves — their sounds and associations — that become the thing. Stepping stones in a fogged-out landscape.
I enjoy those words. In the long unpunctuated sequence, which makes up most of the pamphlet, ‘Equivalent Materials’, there’s a lot of alliteration, assonance and rhyme. Here’s one of my favourite lines:
pliant willow casket pint accomplice
I like that rhyme. Words themselves start popping out of the page, demanding my full attention. In the earlier (and only other) poem, ‘Encounters’, we’re presented with the question: ‘who are you / in relationship to this space?’ And then little maybe-clues like:
I won’t write the difficulty of being
numerous my hands are framing the daily
a baby is crying in a
different part of this building
I get a sense of fractured dispelled attention: like city noises after dark. I can tune into this — in myself, as well as in this work. Resonate. (Which is itself a sound-activity: a vibrating in time with.)
There’s no extraneous information whatsoever in or on this pamphlet — not even an author bio. (On the publisher’s website, there is a little more. I learn, for instance, that ‘These poems emerged out of an installation/experiment’.) On the page, for me, words that seem to bear little relation unite in non-sentences: ‘arcade skinned rabbit aloft said’. They reverberate off each other — ‘cuddle picturewindow ululate’ — painting strange, approximate, impressionist pictures.
It’s not unenjoyable — giving my attention to this soundscape: birds (words) sitting on a telegraph wire. I begin to hear sounds and echoes everywhere — ‘neither linen thinner niche’ — and relationships between words, like ‘secret wheat futures’. Strange cinematic impressions do begin to form, as I work my way through. A (partial) reward for suspended patience and waiting?
map a daily lengthening a fish and chip supper
steps into lemony sunlight
here I am