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The Escape Sonnets by Brian Edwards & Couchgrass by Dominique Hecq

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April 2007, no. 290

The Escape Sonnets by Brian Edwards

Papyrus Publishing, $19.80 pb, 116 pp

Couchgrass

by Dominique Hecq

Papyrus Publishing, $18.70 pb, 53 pp

The Escape Sonnets by Brian Edwards & Couchgrass by Dominique Hecq

by
April 2007, no. 290

Dominique Hecq and Brian Edwards are well versed in the contingencies of language, roaming in their poetry between experimentation and high tradition – at least in terms of content, if not so much in form. Both target the self-reflexive play of language early in their latest collections: Hecq in her title poem, with ‘words spreading / like couchgrass after summer rains / on my tongue’; Edwards even more demonstrably in ‘Reading Althusser on Marx’, where ‘Standing between objects and meanings / the language: there are only partial truths’.

Laying bare the disjuncture between words and ideas can, of course, add a layer of meaning while paradoxically questioning how we make meaning, but the results in these collections vary. The Edwards poem above closes: ‘Of course the text is subjectivity / and the code an artifice, / but there is something out there.’ What might have been overly academic is nicely rescued in that last line, an appropriation from any number of popular sci-fi and horror flicks employed to telling comic effect. Edwards regularly plays with the vernacular to enliven retellings of the classical. In ‘Rereading Rubens Reading Homer’, Athena ‘stays the course’; in ‘The Pale Cast of Thought’ (Hamlet rewritten), there is ‘Little wonder she [Ophelia] gathers wildflowers and sings mad songs’ – but at times the conversational grappling with discourse can be highly explanatory:

There are so many gestures and signs,
triple-plays of reference, of meaning,
such irresistible temptations in the perils of language.

(‘Remembering Melville’)

Anthony Lynch reviews 'The Escape Sonnets' by Brian Edwards and 'Couchgrass' by Dominique Hecq

The Escape Sonnets

by Brian Edwards

Papyrus Publishing, $19.80 pb, 116 pp

Couchgrass

by Dominique Hecq

Papyrus Publishing, $18.70 pb, 53 pp

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