Loads of Learned Lumber

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lisa Robertson, _Lisa Robertson's Magenta Soul Whip_

AFTER READING THIS, I was so floored that I decided that I needed to read it again before I wrote about it; having re-read it, I am re-floored, and capable of but three paltry observations.

1. I notice from the copyright page that the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council provided "generous assistance" for this volume. So why does the NEH never pony up for anything this good? Hmm?

2. I love it that the book has an index of first lines.

3. The passage on pages 86-87 beginning "I shall offer a short allegory" is about as good as assessment of the state of poetry occurring within a poem as I can think of. Up there with "East Coker."

That's about all I have, pitiful though it is. In my alter-identity as a pop-punk songwriter, however, I decide to compose a sort of cento of the book.  The music owes a large debt to the Damned's "New Rose," so my tribute to Lisa Robertson is simultaneously a tribute to Brian, Rat, Dave, and the Captain.  Here it is.


“Like a boy blowing from a tree”
“Docents stroked my milky ego”
“I strewed, I strove, I swelled all night”
“disappeared / into Architecture”
“and then the sea and then the air
and then the upper part ignites”
“Then everything begins to dilate”
“which is a god mixed with what we can want”

From the get-go, I was in your grip--
The day I read your Magenta Soul Whip.

“We call this food, and it fabricates us”
“Where erupts the morning’s catalogue”
“Your failures are no longer sacred”
“’None of the forms feel big enough’”
“I said I didn’t know what thinking is”
“I met a dog who collected doubt”
“Fashion determines empathy”
“’Soon there will be only society’”

As Robert Hunter might say, it was a short, strange trip,
The day I read your Magenta Soul Whip.

“A lady’s reach must exceed her grasp”
“A rubric is a thick red earth”
“I will put them / In a bande dessinĂ©e”
“They are only animals”
“I shall offer a short allegory”
“loading bays and stilted awnings”
“Might there be a motion that is not itself”
“My fidelity is my own disaster”

Proud to be part of your readership,
And now I’ve read your Magenta Soul Whip.

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