Frit, Eley Williams
Sad Press, 2017 Unpriced on cover.
Yielding to Quoz
This pamphlet collection is prefaced by a list of three dictionary meanings for the word ‘frit’, only one of which (fright) was known to me. The list flags the poet’s interest in word, meaning and possibility.
But not mere interest. I felt she had a passion (in the old, romantic sense) for the sound of words and phrases. The music of the communication may even be more important than meaning here — or possibly it is the meaning.
I found myself marking particularly lovely phrases, of which there was a superabundance — ‘the daft-deft lozenge of a thought’; ‘the soft palate of my waking sings’; ‘Skies as something meddled or bletted or ripe, or wished-not’.
I don’t mean to suggest these poems are melodious gibberish. Some of them include plain, straightforward statements. There is at least one love poem.
Contemporary poets are often self-conscious about their practice: it’s almost as if they know too much about what they’re doing. This is the lapsarian age of post-graduate qualifications in poetic practice. It seems to me that Eley Williams both espouses and resists poetic rhetoric.
And in this case, I wondered if one shortish poem might be a kind of ars poetica. Here it is in full:
‘but now must yield to Quoz’
To lend a silver tongue but ensure levity in hand
not-scathing at its point & chape & pommel,
dawdle-drawled and too-deep drawing—
a rapt but restless wrasse
abruptly wrapped in sassafras
bezaddled and befuddled,
nonsense verses’ bungled cuddles
(by god is it good to be something’s someone
if only wordplay’s, or a piece ahotch,
a peewit’s quiff coaxing,
coasting its own blandishments,
lacing my milk, my shoelaces,
sweet churlishness and roil—
for the saying’s sake,
for the staying’s sake)
Thanks to the wonder of the internet I was able to read the source of the title ‘and now must yield to Quoz’, and it came as no surprise that it all ties in with novelty and playfulness of expression. Try reading that poem aloud.
By god, it is good, isn’t it, to be something’s someone — ‘for the saying’s sake, / for the staying’s sake’?