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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Richard Vallance Reviews All the Babble of the Souk. Collected Poems. Robin Ouzman Hislop.

Review of All the Babble of the Souk by Richard Vallance
 
If “All the Babble of the Souk” is anything but memorable — as it surely is — it is so because of its sweeping portrayal of the tumultuous market that is humankind. The “babble” of this bazaar is that of all the markets in the world — irrespective of nation, language, culture or race or for that matter, at the symbolic level, of any manifestation of our nature, be it “good” or “evil”, which are not opposing psychological or spiritual states as all too many naïvely imagine, but rather their subtle blending in our psyche. There is no suggestion of the presence or absence of God or a “god”. It is irrelevant. There is just humanity.
 
The poems, mostly quasi free form, some of them highly reminiscent of haiku, range from very short to a few pages long. Except for one poem and one only, Scale Free, in which we come face to face with some of the most beautiful imagery in the entire collection, and I quote:
 
A cuckoo taunts
high in the mountain
where are you?

 
there is not a single question to be found in the rest of the book. All the rest of the poems consist only of statements, some of them brief, others rather too long for my taste and some even downright convoluted. When this approach to poetry composition is carried to its extreme, it can and sometimes does result in the overly prosaic. That is the only real quarrel I have with this collection. Fortunately, there are only only a handful of poems which are painfully prone to the prosaic. Among these are Mannequins, the whole series Maps 1,2,3,4, The Prisoners, Non Linear and in particular Rust (which reads more like a scientific tract than a poem), none of which have any real appeal to me.
 
The rest of the poems run from agreeable at the very least to the truly amazing. Among those poems agreeable to the mind and/or the ear I count: Passage, At the Party, Here Comes the Moon, Multiverse, The Pine at the Summit and Wind upon a River. Others like these will more or less please the reader. But as everyone knows, we all have our own preferences for the kinds of poetry we like. The poems which appeal more to one person appeal less to another. The aforementioned choices are merely my own.
 
Next come poems which display remarkable talent, such as: After Dylan on the Ninth Wave (which I for one particularly like), Africa North (haiku-like), A Witch for Halloween (in which we find some of the most striking chthonic imagery in the book), Core (commendable for its brevity, economy of verse & imagery), Entanglements (haiku-like), Sequence 1 & 2 (haiku-like) and Story of a Rose.
 
I have a marked preference for the poet’s haiku-like poems. Haiku have always strongly appealed to me. In fact, I myself, along with Robin Ouzman Hislop and so many other truly talented haijin, have composed a considerable number of poems of this nature, many of which were published in the print quarterly, Canadian Zen Haiku (2004-2010), which is now out of print. Brevity is the soul of wit, and indeed of the memorable. It is Robin Ouzman Hislop’ s more compact poems which please me the most. There are exceptions, poems which are not haiku-like or are somewhat lengthier. There are some truly memorable lines in these poems. For instance, we have:
 
from Africa North:
A winnowing canvass tosses corn
and
... as fireflies in the blazing day.
and finally
In the gloaming a solitary reaper reaps its shadow.
(Reminiscences of Wordsworth’ s, The Solitary Reaper, one of the most astonishingly beautiful poems in English.)
 
from After Dylan on the Ninth Wave, there are a considerable number of memorable lines, which you can explore for yourself. The poem is not quite up to Dylan Thomas… a very tough act to follow!
 
and from Core:
reaching my eye’s peninsula

sudden scene, solitary strand
 
All of the poems in this class pleased me a great deal.
 
Now we come to the downright brilliant poems, of which there are naturally only a few. I might as well cite them all. They are Scale Free ( a series of haiku-like lines & almost pure haiku), A Split Second Later’s Late, Laminations in Lacquer, Lucky Hat Day and Red Butterflies, all of which had a powerful psychological and spiritual impact on me. Here are just a few of the lines from these truly remarkable poems which really struck me, and I mean really —
 
from A Split Second Later’s Late:
… a serpent’s spit according to legend.
 
from Laminations in Lacquer, the gripping lines:
Fireworks like a diaphanous lithograph
print an emblazoned sky
on the craggy mountains of the night
where comets play at kites
& glistening the eerie beak hisses.

 
and from Red Butterflies, where we find some of the most highly inspired, truly imaginative lines:
but as a collage on shifting sands…

A sword brazed in a fire
that does not distinguish
between the battle
& the field.

 
I believe we can safely say that the poet has achieved a level of poetic style and content which can hardly disappoint. Some of the poems in in “All the Babble of the Souk” remind me of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”. Perhaps the most striking feature of this volume is the poet’s portrayal of humanity, which deprives us of any escape from the darker, more insidious depths of our human condition. The most striking imagery in the entire collection forces itself on the least flattering trait of of our nature, our tendency towards — I might as well say it flat out — bestiality, which leaps to the fore in the poet’s all too frequent comparison between homo sapiens and apes (King Simian, seeking simian), gorillas, baboons and other fierce beasts of that ilk, all the way to neanderthals, Australopithecus and the odious nocturnal lupine, the proverbial werewolf. Lines such as: the hairless ape, go ape, going bananas… all mercilessly zero in on our ape-like nature bedeviling our s0-called civilized veneer.
 
There is also frequent reference to eating meat, and being eaten (we grow the meat we eat, those she didn’t eat alive, children simply to feed her, how they like human flesh, to be consumed by hell), all the way through to witchcraft and Zombie imagery. The dreadful presence of these creatures of the night inexorably lurks just beneath the thin veneer our blasé urbanity.
 
To cut to the quick, the most memorable qualities of Robin Ouzman Hislop’s poetic gifts are his penchant for economy of lines and the puissant imagery of the chthonic. Where these features dominate any poem, they impel it towards the nonpareil! Such poems soar. When it works, it works supremely well. As for the rest, there is much to please the reader.
 
Overall rating: 3.75/ 5
 
Richard Vallance

 
 
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Richard Vallance, meta-linguist, ancient Greek & Mycenaean Linear B, home page: Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com
 
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Also poetry publisher, The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of sonnets of the early third millennium Le Phénix renaissant de ses cendres : Anthologie de sonnets au début du troisième millénaire Friesen Press, Victoria, B.C., Canada. © August 2013. 35 illustrations in B & W. Author & Title Indexes. 257 pp. 315 sonnets & ghazals in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese & Persian.
 
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Tilting Ponds.Poem from Serpentrope by Norman Ball

serpentrope1

 

ISBN-10: 0615900798 ISBN-13: 978-0615900797


Unique and highly imaginative, Norman Ball’s poetry is also frequently apocalyptic. Drawing on Jungian archetypes, his poetry continually circles back on particular symbols as it contextualizes everyday dilemmas while formulating windows into the broader world of the numinous. Spellbinding.
—Jeff Holt, Poet, The Harvest.
 
A prolific songwriter, literary essayist, political commentator and playwright, here comes Ball the poet refracting, at his best, Auden’s ‘ironic points of light’…as for that patented Ball humor does it traverse genres? I’m pleased to report it more than survives the stanza.
—Douglas Milton, Editor, Anthony Burgess International Journal
 
The price we have paid for being over-intellectualized by the Modernist movement is somewhat allayed by the formal poetry that predominates in this collection; thank goodness there are poets like Mr. Ball helping to recover the magical in the most important art form humankind has striven to perfect.
—Patrick Quinn, President, Robert Graves Society
 
Surprises abound in this marvelous collection of poetry. We find depth, wit and astute observation all wrapped up in classical metrics made profoundly fresh.
—Rowena Silver, Co-Editor, Epicenter magazine
 
Norman Ball goes where few have ever gone before—into the largely unexplored realms of poetic financial satire. Yes Virginia, there is such a thing. And he brings back a great many pithy and humorous treasures for readers from his travels there.
—Michael Silverstein, The Wall Street Poet
 
Norman Ball’s ambitious poetry turns on wordplay—for wit, for sonic joy, and for serious surprises. Both his formal and free verse thrive in the territory of e.e. cummings, where he takes on challenges too daunting for most contemporary poets. —A. M. Juster, Poet, The Satires of Horace  


Serpentrope is a small volume of collected poems by Norman Ball, written almost all in formal and classical metrics and for the most part in sonnet form. In an article at the back titled Ouroboros: Why Now? the author cites it as a trope for an emergent archetype of the millennium, – as the turning of an age, our time now is critical. The poems are given a contemporary context, often in current affairs of the last decade in the USA. The style is light, dexterous and pithy, many times coloured by a dark humour akin to the sinister and characterised by a deft turning of phrase. This appears acutely in the sonnets and their final couplets, where it is as if it’s the maw of Ouroborus itself swallowing its own tail. – Editor Poetry Life & Times Robin Ouzman Hislop

 
 
TILTING PONDS

 

The marriage of the swans has been annulled

with an absence of ceremony, she lies graceless and stiff,

a brick by her crushed skull;

an orange meteor hurled by a petulant boy-Zeus.
 

I know him as he runs back to his empty motive,

this orphan of unattended grief,

desperate for a mother’s dead reflection.

A universe of dying nest is all the nurture he allows.

 

Now too, the widower is beside himself

attended by the sag of his reflection,

The banks salve the water’s edge.

My bread of solace floats untouched.

 

There is only one to feed now.

But he leans away without appetite.

The world lies wet to boys and swans

and the mirrored edge of endless tilting ponds. 
 
 
Norman Ball FBP
 
 
NORMAN BALL (BA Political Science/Econ, Washington & Lee University; MBA, George Washington University) is a well-travelled Scots-American businessman, author and poet whose essays have appeared in Counterpunch, The Western Muslim and elsewhere. His new book “Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments” is available here. Two essay collections, “How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable?” and “The Frantic Force” are spoken of here and here. His recent collection of poetry “Serpentrope” is published from White Violet Press. He can be reached at returntoone@hotmail.com.
 
 
robin2705
Robin Ouzman Hislop (UK) Co-editor of the 12 year running on line monthly poetry journal Poetry Life and Times. He has made many appearances over the last years in the quarterly journals Canadian Zen Haiku, including In the Spotlight Winter 2010; Sonnetto Poesia. Previously published in international magazines, recent publications include Voices without Borders Volume 1 (USA), Cold Mountain Review, Appalachian University N Carolina, The Poetic Bond Series, available at http://www.thepoeticbond.com a recently published Anthology of Sonnets: Phoenix Rise from the Ashes. He has recently completed a volume of poetry All the Babble of the Souk.
 
 
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Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (38-42) Poem. Christopher Barnes

 

Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (38)

 

One frame inheriting another…

Blood on marble and white roses.

Stand-alone vampire crystallizes into a statue.

The nearest pall-bearer sucks air. Crushed urn.

 

 Froth overruns chapelry pews

Through a hinge-wrecked door –

 An ephemeral embodiment.

 

Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (39)

 

 Take No. 7

 In rubescent lamé pyjamas.

 Sabrina Roper’s is a skin-deep part,

 Moulding exposed nerves

 In the screening room.

 A moon-buffed kiss on hand.

 His Satanic Majesty simpers.

Runaway violin a bedlamite tango…

Chimps neighing over the sobs of men…

 

Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (40)

 

 The picture palace reviews

 May get off-the-beam

 About the overacting.

 Hold the focus,

 Instantaneous sunrise behind a shot –

 Costumes: the fantasia keeps time

 With a hue and cry.

 The limelit alehouse at dead of night.

 Our Stunt Co-ordinater isn’t exasperated

 By bee swarms in gusts,

 Nor the beg-hard grimace

 On Manola Dean’s hauled up face.

 

 Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (41)

 

 Fuzz on Bevan’s palms

 Flaunted as the transom’s pegged.

 Simon, the Boom Operator, tips to the left.

 Cut to…billboard puffing the movie show ‘Nosferatu’.

 

 Camera 6 whirls to Sabrina Roper

 In the ruck of a bee-keepers net.

 A schnauzer piddles in floorboards.

 

 The relinquished rocking chair teeters

 Indicating tea, sandwiches

 And a twist-ragged Script Conference.

 

Filming ‘Blood Shot Silk’ – Deleted Scene (42)

 

 Smoke machine on a brae…

 A hog spews on moss.

 Effervescence in dirty sky.

 Disfigured colour sergeant gains time,

 Pulls out a smooth-bore.

 Snigger, incandescent flash.

 The dream is taking flesh.

 Drumroll on soundtrack – mental note.

 The regular steps of the fait accompli

 May be fair-weather, deleted.

 

 

 Christopher Barnes, UK. Some bio details…

 

In 1998 I won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 200 I read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology ‘Titles Are Bitches’.  Christmas 2001 I debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of my poems.  Each year I read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and I partake in workshops.  2005 saw the publication of my collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.

On Saturday 16Th August 2003 I read at the Edinburgh Festival as a Per Verse poet at LGBT Centre, Broughton St.

 I also have a BBC web-page www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/gay.2004/05/section_28.shtml and http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/videonation/stories/gay_history.shtml (if first site does not work click on SECTION 28 on second site.

Christmas 2001 The Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored me to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North.  I   made a radio programme for Web FM community radio about my writing group.  October-November 2005, I entered a poem/visual image into the art exhibition The Art Cafe Project, his piece Post-Mark was shown in Betty’s Newcastle.  This event was sponsored by Pride On The Tyne.  I made a digital film with artists Kate Sweeney and Julie Ballands at a film making workshop called Out Of The Picture which was shown at the festival party for Proudwords, it contains my poem The Old Heave-Ho.  I worked on a collaborative art and literature project called How Gay Are Your Genes, facilitated by Lisa Mathews (poet) which exhibited at The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University, including a film piece by the artist Predrag Pajdic in which I read my poem On Brenkley St.  The event was funded by The Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute, Bio-science Centre at Newcastle’s Centre for Life.  I was involved in the Five Arts Cities poetry postcard event which exhibited at The Seven Stories children’s literature building.  In May I had 2006 a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People’s Theatre why not take a look at their website http://ptag.org.uk/whats_on/gallery/recent_exhbitions.htm

The South Bank Centre in London recorded my poem “The Holiday I Never Had”; I can be heard reading it on www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=18456

REVIEWS: I have written poetry reviews for Poetry Scotland and Jacket Magazine and in August 2007 I made a film called ‘A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot’ for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem…see www.myspace.com/queerbeatsfestival  On September 4 2010, I read at the Callander Poetry Weekend hosted by Poetry Scotland.  I have also written Art Criticism for Peel and Combustus Magazines.