Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Vinyl, Miriam GordisThe jacket has the author's name and title left justified with one word to a line in large bold caps. It is an odd typeface where the top half of the letter R is filled in black. There is a wallpaper design over the cover of circles with luminous pale greenish centres. Bottom left the imprint name (Goggles) and logo in small black lowercase

Eyewear Publishing (Goggles), 2018   £6.00

Re, re, re …

Miriam Gordis sets out her stall from the beginning of her first pamphlet, Vinyl, by starting with her title poem, which also implicitly offers the reader a declaration of poetic intent:

But even if I had a body that could play,
turn endlessly on this pirouette,
bright colours stacked up like so many offerings,
there are only so many choices
and my reincarnation was more nebulous,
less of a transposition
and more strictly a remolding,
vinyl reimprinted.

This extract displays a key feature that characterises the collection as a whole: the poet’s attempt to re-interpret the relationship between the human body and abstract ideas. Gordis’ lines tend to form semantic, bite-sized chunks, while her widespread use of repetition ties in with her aforementioned reincarnations and remoldings. The ending to ‘Radio Silence’ provides us with another example:

How solitary was Jesus when he went to Gethsemane.
How solitary a lovelorn woman.
How solitary our phrases
cupped together like disjointed hands.

‘How solitary … how solitary … how solitary …’ marks the point of departure for each line, reflecting the poet’s invocation of alternative visions, means of expression and ‘remoldings’, as previously set out in her title poem. The final image, meanwhile, successfully portrays the tenuous relationship between language and the human body.

Throughout Vinyl, the poems strike up implicit conversations among themselves, going back and forth in their searches for new meaning. Interestingly, 'reis their dominant prefix.

Matthew Stewart