This review of Susan utting’s collection Fair’s Fair appears on issue No. 9 of Blackbox Manifold, on online forum with a slant towards innovative poetry that has prose, narrative, or sequences in its sights.
Susan Utting’s collection from Two Rivers Press is more mainstream – but certain emphases recur which link up to the cerebral Jarvis theatre and Farrell’s language energies: turning on what is glimpsed at the edge of things. ‘Warhol Blonde’ starts off with the aperçu that Warhol’s work has valency as a form of image-making which takes hold of the mind at unconscious levels, there where the mind refuses to remember, not remembering the things done to people by acts of representation: ‘What you don’t remember is the way/she fades to smudge’. Warhol’s art reduces phenomena not just to the media surface of the reproducible industrial artwork. It also conjures into being a back-space where things become shadows which might acquire the status of ‘forgotten’ mental events thanks to the amnesiac effect the artworks are designed to have: ‘it’s what you see you had / forgotten: all that shadow, / its hide and seek, its chill.’ The words, too, of Utting’s poem play hide and seek, do not clarify, have a chilling effect: for they imply that the poem too is there with purposes the lazy or attentive reader cannot master, or analyze, or even enjoy. It is there to sponsor forgotten affect, and may be treacherous in ways no seeking after shocks can quite capture. At times a collection catches fire with just one poem, as here: a tremendous thing to have pulled off
Copyright © 2012 by Adam Piette, all rights reserved
The review is by Adam Piette, co-editor of Blackbox Manifold, Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Sheffield, and author of Remembering and the Sounds of Words, Imagination at War, and The Literary Cold War