Monday, June 16, 2014

Alison Ross's Clockwise Cats by Felino Soriano (Chapbook Review)

With a multitude of “poetic voices” appearing within the influx of print and online journals and other forms of publication opportunities, finding one that connects with attention and the desire to continue following their writing is not always an act of prevalent discovery.  Many “voices” appear to be replicates and echoes of others’ renditions of writings.  This causes much disinterest in contemporary poetry to many, and assists in defining poetry as an art form that has little significance in our culture of alternating fascinations.

Alison Ross’s book of poems, Clockwise Cats represents her initial and original voice into the context of publishing her first collection of poetry; further, her voice is one that I have read and followed for several years—her poetry, satire, reviews, etc. are always well-written and depict a very personal and identifiable rendition of language.

Clockwise Cats is a slim volume of work, and I parallel this collection with a tonal definition of dusk: each poem’s language, each direction of what she is depicting brings into fruition a type of darkness that is collocated with enough light to lead the reader and remove notions of darkness’ ambiguity (as one might find in complete darkness):

Miro's ennui shook the foundations of time.
It isolated lethargy in a continuum of shadows.

Miro's ennui shocked the universe sublime.
It isolated apathy in a spectrum of windows.

Miro's ennui
created a hierarchy of shadows
that shocked a spectrum of apathy
into a lethargy of windows 

(pg. 5)

This poem entitled Miro’s ennui is the lead poem in the collection and brings my analogy of dusk into highlight, immediately.  What Ross does quite well in these poems is produce an introverted propensity to steer through emotional data—data that is relatable; however, and this is vital, she does not use clichéd emblems even when describing such topics as death and rain:

It's raining cats and clocks.
I drink an entire bottle of dreams (vintage 1919)
and drift down a road made of smoke.
The umbrella of my imagination
flies away
flies away.

I am in no hurry to die.
My smile blooms
like a cyst.

Further down the road
I meet the phantom of myself.
I say hello and she laughs.
I smother her with my raincoat.
She wilts like a wounded smile.

(from Death is imminent and I’m still smiling, pg. 7)

Ross’s imaginative language here is causal to analyzing the text in a similar fashion one might with a painting; these lines meander and function as shape as much as they function as textual position on the paper.  My smile blooms like a cyst. is a quintessential model of Ross’s language—her gift is using familiar terms in neoteric fashions, somewhat then, rewording their function and definitional appearance. 

At 14 pages, again, Clockwise Cats is a slim offering.  However, each poem is strong and includes lines such as: 

The hours rain down
like soft sparkling skulls.
The children catch them on their tongues,
eat them like they’re stars,
and become illuminated time.

(Hours, pg. 8)

Miro’s scream ripped open like a red yawn,
and lullabies fluttered out like blue bats.

Miro’s scream became locked inside itself:
Miro had swallowed the key to eternity,
and oblivion unfurled like a new color of crayon.

(from Miro’s scream, pg. 9)

The clockwise cat
moves in counter-clockwise cadences
across the hardwood floors of infinity.
She stalks illusions of impermanence
which flit like shadows
across the paint-chipped walls in her mind.

(from The Clockwise Cat, pg. 13)

These, and many other illustrations provide examples of Ross’s unique and dexterous musical language.
As Clockwise Cats is her first offering into the realm of book publishing, this young, slim volume should provide an excellent catapult into her next publications, with ease.

You may peruse and/or purchase Clockwise Cats here: Fowlpox Press

Author bio: 

Felino A. Soriano is a member of The Southern Collective Experience.  He is the founding editor of the online endeavors Counterexample Poetics and Of/with; in addition, he is a contributing editor for the online journal, Sugar Mule.   His writing finds foundation in created coöccurrences, predicated on his strong connection to various idioms of jazz music.  His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology, and appears in various online and print publications, with recent poetry collections includingMathematics (Nostrovia! Poetry, 2014), Espials (Fowlpox Press, 2014), and watching what invents perception (WISH Publications, 2013).  He lives in California with his wife and family and is a director of supported living and independent living programs providing supports to adults with developmental disabilities. Links to his published and forthcoming poems, books, interviews, images, etc. can be found at

No comments: