tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Stane

Stane by Allen Fisher
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really liked it
bookshelves: poetry

Oh, SHIT! Another poet whose work I feel largely underqualified to write anything intelligent about. But, HEY!, I won't let that stop me. As usual, some personal history 1st. As I've written elsewhere, I met poet Kirby Malone in Baltimore when he was 20 & I was 21. We had writing interests in common - wch was astounding. He left for London shortly thereafter where he lived for a yr supported by a fellowship. While there, he made connections w/ some poets. Allen was one of them.

When Kirby returned to Baltimore, he & Marshall Reese published a bk by him (wch I'd forgotten about). It was probably thru this bk that I encountered Fisher's work. It was mostly thru the efforts of Kirby & Marshall that I got to know these London poets & their work. Thanks guys! P. Clive Fencott, another London poet, & Fisher both published work in microfiche format - that solidified my attn to their work b/c of its crossover into my film interests. I visited Fisher in London in 1984. It was a friendly & stimulating encounter & Allen gave me many of his bks then. I was traveling w/ my severely diabetic girlfriend, Gail Litfin, & Allen's wife had been a diabetic who had died during home dialysis. We bonded over that. Since then, I've lost contact w/ him. Too bad.

Allen published under the name SPANNER: magazines & bks. His friend & colleague cris cheek had his own offset press. Both cris & Allen produced very nicely done publications. Maybe Allen had his own press too, maybe he used cris's. I don't know who published Aloes. I note that, according to an online source, 4 of the 6 unauthorized Thomas Pynchon publications came from them! I like the look of this particular Aloes: it's oddsized, the cover's printed in 3 colors & subtly done, the body of the text is in red instead of the more usual black. Whoever printed these obviously had an unusual sensibility.

The subtitle of "STANE" is:

"comprising most of place Book III
place forty-five to eighty-one
Second Movement"

- implying, presumably truthfully, that this already substantial work is but one part of an even more substantial work. The apparently contextualizing language is often mysterious to me. EG: at the top of the 1st poem is written: "(80) cut into GRAMPIANS" & on the top of both columns of the 2nd page is written: "GRAMPIANS cut into 76". This is apparently a reference to another work of Fisher's, excerpted from & placed here. The language that follows is less obscure to me:

"we have seen the moon illuminating rain clouds
giving the earth's spin distinction

we have sought to alter people
The breath of life and the wind changes
a relationship
an organic connection"

As usual in these reviews, the formatting is incorrect. Then, in the midst of the poetry, a letter to some friends is reproduced in wch Allen writes about an electrical system used to prevent dampness from rising in walls. Such juxtapositions remind me of Christopher Dewdney's work. Cross-disciplinary informing/fertilization. Some of Dewdney's early work references where he lives in Ontario - using geological lingo. Fisher seems to reference London: using politics, history, geography, statistics.

A column headed "80 & 81" has written in it:

"This is the borough of Lambeth
Population three-hundred thousand less than 3 to a household
held by 60 councillors

taxed 65% by the planners, educators & city police"

Fisher seems to take the fragments of whatever surrounds him & to turn them into the fragments on the page. Sometimes, he turns these into poems, sometimes into letters. The whole gives a sense of place w/o being a tour guide.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 20, 2008 – Shelved
April 20, 2008 – Shelved as: poetry

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