Miriam C Jacobs Reviews All the Babble of the Souk.

Poet Robin Ouzman Hislop’s first full-length collection, All the Babble of the Souk, is appropriately titled. With a remarkably consistent ear for the market’s noise, for “[t]he broken lights of the bazaar/spangled] with glistening promise/in the eyes of the dusky beggar …” (Laminations in Lacquer ) Hislop’s poems, many of them cinematic-style montages of sounds and images, show us the metaphoric souk of the world, on the beach or in the street, its glitter, its sadness, its ragtag glory:
 
“pets, flower pots framed captive in a moment
outside the house of the painter, a robot
in chains with an alms bowl” (“Departures”)
 
These impressions are not confined to the scenic. Individuals, too, flash like rich arcades:
 
“there is not time enough to love
before the tram whisks her away
a creature of the costume of the moment
in a parade of parts.” (“In the fish-eye window”)
 
So marked is Hislop’s interest in the external world, readers may long for a glimpse of the speaker. It comes rarely. There are one or two musings on the phenomenon and surprise of feeling oneself age, the odd disjointing of it, but otherwise these poems proclaim their perhaps unique impersonality. In “Laminations in Lacquer” we sight what is, perhaps, the poet, but in third person, one who rises, observes, and then folds in at last with the “throng”:
 
“Below the rift of its eye
the sealed beak that will open
gleams on the lee …
in a room that roams without corners
he must rise with a chalice of blood for lips of shades
where the vertigo edge of the flower distills the dish
together with the quantities of immeasurable throng
on watery groves billowing with ivy bowers
sprung over hidden lairs of concealed hoards.
Night begins and the dogs draw nigh
scavenging for scraps
yapping at the walker’s naked ankles
in the dust of unknown alleys.”
 
Among other reoccurring themes – shadows, mirrors, the moon – is Hislop’s interest in physics. In a variety of contexts he reflects on time and infinity, the imagination-daunting galaxies, quantum theory and space:
 
“Man cannot live on myth alone
he shall earn his soil somehow, between
the Big Bang, the Big Slam ….”
 
One admirable quality in this work is that souk places us firmly in the precariousness of the current moment in history. These poems are exactly right for the age, and who we are now, those of us born 1945-1960, with our particular view of past and present, our grasp of the sciences and technologies that have overtaken the known world in our lifetimes.
 
“The world is a patchwork quilt,” Hislop concludes in “Lucky hat day,”
‘stitched up to the hilt its seams/which we quarter in our dreams
on which our edifice is built …”

 
 
Jacobs recent head
 
 
MIRIAM C. JACOBS is a alumnus of the University of Chicago and teaches college writing, literature and humanities. Jacobs is the editor of Eyedrum Periodically, the art/literature journal of Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, Atlanta. Her poetry has appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, The East Coast Literary Review, Record Magazine, The Camel Saloon, Bluestem: the Art and Literary Journal of Eastern Illinois University, The King’s English, and Oklahoma Today, among other publications. Her chapbook of poetry, The Naked Prince, was published by Fort!/Da? Books in September 2013.
 
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goodreads.com/author/show/Robin Ouzman Hislop
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http://www.amazon.com. All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop
www.lulu.com. All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop
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http://www.innerchildpress.com/robin-ouzman-hislop.All the Babble of the Souk