Sunday, June 28, 2009

David Blaine's The View From Here by David McLean (Book Review)

David Blaine's The View From Here
Reviewed by David McLean

As Nagel puts it, a certain kind of philosophy purports to be about a “View From Nowhere.” Unlike that sort of philosophy, poetry should be about a “View From Here” - localized and situated and explicitly or implicitly always somebody's property.

Well, David Blaine's chapbook The View From Here dropped into my post box this afternoon down by the road, it thudded only faintly, containing as it does only 18 poems. It's a perfect example of a chapbook, in fact, of why chapbooks are such a good way to publish or purchase poetry. The investment is minimal in terms of expense and time sliced from the rest of your life, but, as in this case, the rewards can be immeasurable in terms of getting a glance at life through a fresh pair of eyes. After that things often look nicer. The little book may be mine now, through David's generosity, but the words are always his and he's lent them to us for a while.

These poems, as befits one of the guiding lights of Outsider Writers, are both exquisitely poetic and not challenging in the sense of being self-consciously pseudo-intellectual, like me on a bad day. Instead they challenge us to maybe shrug on what we might think of as David's persona here a little and look at the world through the lenses of his poetic voice here. And it's a spectacular voice he conjures up. Psychosis is absolutely breathtaking in its mastery

when the clock finally stops
the rest of the time is yours to keep¨

this is where the saints come when
we're just no good any more

and i have read Morning Chill before

I woke but i was tired;
it was raining
and the sky was gray

I read your poetry in the cold.
It was good to feel young again.

I quote these, the second of them in its entirety, since they are an epitome of why you need this book. The diction and chosen vocabulary is perfectly conventional but the phrasing and intonation is absolutely magical, total perfection.

The book covers everything so effortlessly, from describing situations when words are held at arms length and fall on deaf feet (Dysfunctional Communication), to rites of passage, as they used to be called (The Ritual). Blaine achieves a mastery here that is both conversational and crystallizes words out of the air just exactly where they are supposed to be. This is what they used to call poetry. you want this book, believe me, especially if, like me, you try to write poems, because this fucker shows us how to do it. Buy it here: David Blaine.

Author bio:

David McLean is Welsh but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there on an island in the Stockholm archipelago with a woman, five selfish cats and a stupid dog. He has a BA in History from Oxford, and an unconnected MA in philosophy, much later, from Stockholm. Details of his available books, chapbooks, and over 850 poems in or forthcoming at 370 places online or in print over the last couple of years, are at his blog at Mourning Abortion. He never submits by snail mail since he has little money and since he loves, or at least doesn't have anything against, trees. Among things forthcoming is a chapbook called nobody wants to go to heaven but everybody wants to die from Poptritus Press in summer 2009 sometime. Early 2010 an anthology called laughing at funerals will be appearing with Epic Rites Publications, there's also a 50 poem chapbook from Epic Rites called hellbound which is on sale now. For Epic Rites he edits the chapbook series and the e-zines lines written w/ a razor and the thin edge of staring, as well as selecting work for the radio network.

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