‘A Democracy of Poisons’ by Tim Allen – Shearsman Press

I think this is an extraordinary collection – a high-octane collage of ideas, soundbites, axioms, quotations, misquotes, lyricism, outbursts, narrative dysfunction and sudden apocalypse, comedy, bathos (comic and tragic) – which is to name, as they say, just a few. It is reflecting on a finite time of experience across an infinite refraction of it.

This rich range is contained but obviously not constrained by the framing as 100 prose poems of 28 lines across four stanzas each and I don’t think there is any particular rationale to the imposition of a form and finite number other than pragmatism. There could be, and one could make a case/argument, but why?

A wonderful tension/outcome is, however, how this pragmatism is exploded by the riff of random (or apparently so) thinking that occurs within its shaping. This is obvious in the consistent trajectories of thought and language, and within individual lines/phrases like ‘the shape of a forest is not the meaning of trees’.

I’ve pulled the above from 51. Work, so half way through the 100 poems, and this is where I will stop. I do so because saying more – from me anyway, now – would be the poison to perhaps corrupt what Tim Allen accomplishes in each and every poem (‘making us dizzy while coolly smiling’): the poison of over-analysis.

This poem speaks for itself so I simply celebrate its funeral cameo that Allen attends as ‘an unfinished work of temptation’ which I embrace as I haven’t finished reading – and I don’t mean from cover to cover – and I certainly don’t expect to ever reach an end.

1 thought on “‘A Democracy of Poisons’ by Tim Allen – Shearsman Press

  1. Pingback: 2021 Poetry Reviews… | gravyfromthegazebo

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