myu, Thomas Sharp
thepoetryofitall.com, 2021 £10.00
On what — in any other publication — should be the title page, the instruction ‘PLEASE ANNOTATE’ sits below the title. There’s also a small inky handprint, the only one in the publication (think of early cave art) and that acts like an invitation too.
Reader, you are invited to contribute to this pamphlet; your private annotations are no longer something furtive but a part of the collection.
Even before it’s opened, there’s an itch to pick up a pencil, a flickering memory of school days. It looks like an exercise book; square format (21 cm), matt brown, a taped spine (red contrast).
Inside, the paper is ruled to replicate narrow feint. The text, set in typewriter font, sits neatly within the lines. Poems, of course, leave lots of white space — perfect for your own thoughts and annotations.
The first page seems to be hand-written. A mandala made of the repeated words ‘Who’s there?’ coils into the tiny pinpoint in the centre; the pen’s nib is thick with blue ink, fading until it has to be dipped again. This is complete in itself, too beautiful to annotate.
How do you add your own marks to a book? Squiggles in the margins? ticks? question marks? Cross-references to other poems? See page … ah, but there are no page numbers here. Do you have your own symbol for ‘Google later’? Or perhaps you leave each page as clean as you found it.
This is definitely a book to engage with. Though the author’s website tells us it is one long poem of ‘about 30 pages’, it presents as a mixture of separate free verse and prose poems with a crowded cast list — Thomas Aquinas, Mr Splitfoot the Vampire, Samuel Coleridge, Timothy Leary etc. These characters pop in one by one, as if to answer the constant ‘Who’s there?’ but never explaining why. Curiously, that doesn’t seem to matter.
There’s a heady, jazz-driven energy in the writing. No time for back-story or context, or what symbols might represent.
Whether or not it is, as the website suggests, ‘a mythic, visionary, highly-lyrical long poem’, as a set of playful poetry pages it is liberating.
It’s a book for a grown-up child to scribble in.