On Company Time
ANONYMOUS POETRY REVIEWS

ISSUE I (Sept/Oct 2006)

_ Blade Pitch Control Unit
_ A CROCK REVERIE / A Crock Reverie
_ Before and After Mallarmé
_ The Descent of Alette
_ Real.izing the Utopian Longing...
_ The Unconditional
_ Begetting Textile
_ Stretchers


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About

Stuart Calton's A CROCK REVERIE
& Stuart Calton's A Crock Reverie

Reviewed by Drs. & Mrs. Overwhelmingly Blister
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Two things came in the mail recently, one from Stuart Calton and the other from Ian Davidson.

In Stuart's mail were two chapbooks – United Snap Up (Fenland Hi-Brow) & Corn Mother (Barque Press) – and three envelopes. Each envelope is printed on with something like a low-budget ink-jet (clued by the slight pixel blur of the text on the envelope titled "5 Merits In the Liberty Bodice / [imagine brutal concretist image here] / Stuart Calton"). This envelope contains 5 small pink sheets folded in half, each with a 5-lined 5-stanza'd poem, numbered i-v. Various websites have promised this poem to be published as a chapbook from Bad Press. The second of the three envelopes has printed on its front a still-life from the home studio of an Egyptian organ-jarrer, this one stuffed with two folded A4 xeroxes of a Japanese jam-box's cardboard sales box that seems to have been spiked with an ice-pick and sprayed with a satellite precision bomb's radar-dust. But that's all poison for les poisson. What we really meant to get to before all that was the third envelope, whose cover is a video still of Pat Benatar gorging an invisible burrito, though a quick google-image search for the very same pic proves we might have spelled her name wrong so moving on, there are 3 bits of paper inside this envelope. 1 xerox constitutes the notebook-scrawled visual score of THF DRENCHING's "HEALTH + SAFETY" and the other's a diagram of the "hidden" situated between phonology and orthography with a brief description below – all this on 2 pink folded slips. The 3rd bit of paper's the reason we mention Stuart's mail at all, and it's a long sheet of white paper (about 43 x 14.5cm) folded into 4 parts with the whole of "A CROCK REVERIE" printed down it. This poem's supposedly the sequel to Calton's "VERSUS ALL OVER BODY-GHOST" – published in Plantarchy 2 (Critical Documents - ed jUStin!katKO) [see Calton's notes on these poems] – and is written in three columns, or rather 48 tercets whose lines are dispersed across the page's horizon so that all the 1st lines form their own vertical column, as do the 2nd lines and the 3rd lines. William Carlos Williams' variable foot. Here's the first few lines of Calton's, originally printed in a 9pt Times(?):

In the great jack
                                        shit beyond ice
                                                                                cubes are you
Whopper and precisely
                                        your cup of tea slug
                                                                                repellant
empty so hot-footed to the
                                        evanishing prom
                                                                                night form
rides up a cloud of pageant
                                        radiance to the
                                                                               bunting scrapes
around to knock up a
                                        body between us by
                                                                                carbon trading

The focus of this review is the difference between this version and one published in Skald 23 – ed Zoë Skoulding and Ian Davidson. So that issue of Skald is what we got in the mail from Ian Davidson, and it prints Calton's "A Crock Reverie" across 4 pages of folded A4 chapbook, between mIEKAL aND and Kit Fryatt. (We're not certain, but these could be potential pseudonyms of Calton. Check back in a few days for an emergency update.) The first thing that's obviously different about these two poems is the horizontal spacing between the lines. The same lines from above in Calton's chain-link-snail-mail version read thus in Skald:

In the great jack
                         shit beyond ice
                                                  cubes are you
Whopper and precisely
                         your cup of tea slug
                                                  repellant
empty so hot-footed to the
                         evanishing prom
                                                  night form
rides up a cloud of pageant
                         radiance to the
                                                  bunting scrapes
around to knock up a
                         body between us by
                                                  carbon trading

Which ups the static quite a lot, tracing nastier reads down the lines, a pixelated fall through a series of 2-dimensional liquid colour-planes, sounding vertical rhymes and dumps clicked oinking thru those spaces between the metal grated stairs. There's a factory below and it generates papers you can jump thru if football was, indisputable openings with no correlating boundaries. They're very different the two poems, which isn't meant to echo any shin-guard phenomenology or its others, but rather just a way to say that Calton deleted some spaces between the left margin and his lines. A veritable shift to the left, thought depending on the chronology of this micro-labor, it might very well be a shift to the right. A few emails worth of research would uncover the timeline of this process, but now's not the time for that. Because of the chronology of the act of our reading (having received Stuart's mail before Ian's) Calton's shift collapses horizontally into the left, and in doing so augments the frequencies of the vertical. X/Y. Time and its variable. What need's be mentioned once again and not for the last time is that the practice of changing this poem took up x-amount of Calton's time, and this time-share demands time spent reading and post-reading the gasping metal clench that it screeds out. The foundational assumption at work here (and belief even) is that Calton knows how and why he's spending his time, time that could be spent doing x-number of other more or less important things, an assumption fertilized by the approach towards radicalized will that we've found in a number of Calton's poems. On trust, we assume that Calton's horizontal shift was the most important thing he could have done at the time of his doing it; as such the product of this shift need be carried forward as a communique charged with the psychological effects of all the monstrous poison spew that global capitalism shits onto innocent people in, geologically speaking, a mere flutter of time's tick-infested locks. Awes & Shocks. In "VERSUS ALL OVER BODY-GHOST" Calton writes "we've only got each other, in a / sense to read. Paused for a thought-provocation / of direst urgency nerve impacted hi. We". But is there time? is a question we always find ourselves asking. Thinking of Ben Watson's polemic against Ric Caddell - "Space" in Quid 15 (Barque Press - ed Keston Sutherland).

Anyway, the difference mentioned above can't be relegated to Skald's larger font-size (and slightly different font-type), nor to a possible shrinking of the text according to editorial contingencies such as page-size, bleed, or gutter-magic. In lieu of any plausible narrative for Calton's re-spacing of the poem other than saying something like "it's a more interesting read", we might as well use Stuart's own words from "A Crock Reverie" itself, imagining his performance of changing the poem in a text editor as a reifying re-processing of what this fragment performs with language.

the static charge
                         air dance peaking to
                                                  3 KV and a
pulmonary surge out the
                         rent face sides places
                                                  a 10-megohm
resistor across a
                         200pF body
                                                  capacitance to
leap the fiery
                         gulf from nerve to
                                                  nerve and
discharge into
                         the scorched earth
                                                  spinning
like double-top
                         critical dog walking.

There's only one other difference between the poems (besides the infinitely different materiality of the texts as print-jobs), which is the italicization of "Aubbildtheorie" in Calton's self-printed "A Crock Reverie" and the romanization of "Aubbildtheorie" in the Skald 23 version. http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/ (which offers "No guarantee of accuracy or completeness!") translates this word as "image theory; picture theory; representation theory", and it's context in "A Crock Reverie" is this:

                                                  tonight
dead to the
                         world and
                                                  ready to die
not for the
                         world but
                                                  for negation
you self-tap through
                         the puzzling mirror
                                                  Aubbildtheorie
screw the world                           [Aubbildtheorie]

And we'll end with that, foregoing theory-craft's [drip-drip] temptation. If we're not mistaken, you've just read a brief description of two very similar poems by Stuart Calton, this being as thorough a description as we can manage in an evening without stepping up to the exegetical pulpit, though you should do just that if you think it's useful. You can start by ordering Skald 23 for £2, 4 euros or $5 from 6 Hill Street / Menai Bridge, Anglesey / LL59 5AG / Wales, UK. And here's a jpg of Calton's mail-out version, with which you may proceed with a more detailed differential analysis. Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" comes to mind and then leaves quickly.

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Posted August 18, 2006