Crisis & Duplication
(Compound Press, 2017)
Reviewed by Paula Green
Originally published on the NZ Poetry Shelf.
Buy from Compound Press.
And David Merrit’s Crisis & Duplication. I sat on the couch in the grey gloom and read it three times in a row. It is a slender chapbook published by Compound Press last year.
The book is in two halves with a foldout centrepiece. The first half draws Frank Sargeson into the poet’s musing self-reflective quick-fire monologue. It is sharp, angular and surprising.
I always seem to be writing poems in Wellington
sunlight on a cold but bright winter’s day. I will
be outside a cafe in reflected mirror glass, dodging
bullets, writing inbetween showers & dristy
David is musing on the mirror image: himself and Frank, the connections, the writing surges and space for improvement. It is audacious, spiky, riveting.
It’s an easy poem this, preordained, quick
off the tongue, one poet, very alive,
400 miles south for now, compares life
& times with another poet, 60 years
ago still alive & kicking, a Janet Frame
tucked away in a back shed, her glittering
far away eyes focused on her own escape,
‘cept you like me, we never escaped to
the place they call overseas.
The second half navigates the stages of making a book – not a big press book but a grassroots number. A miniature history of desktop publishing. It is risograph printed and bound with premium banana box card. Excellent to look at and hold.
So what do I do in a mini crisis? Will I set up invented conversations with someone who has affected me (also in the garden? writing poems? reading books?)? Is the occasion of writing a poem a crisis for some? A tilt, a topple, a brief epiphany?
To what degree is a poem a duplication?
In the grey gloom with no idea when the lights would be on, the spaghetti effect of questions was extremely welcome. Then again so was the downright admiration of the words on the line.
Yes, I recommend this book highly. Power or no power.