Literary Review Roundup: Full Metal Poem
by Stephan Delbos
Full Metal Poem, the most interesting and well-executed English language literary journal to emerge in Europe in recent memory, saw its first issue released earlier this year. The journal is something of a combined, satellite effort, involving poet Cralan Kelder, based in Amsterdam, and poet Mark Terrill, based outside of Hamburg. Full Metal Poem is equally a piece of art, released in a limited edition print run of 250, and designed by Floortje Bouwkamp and Eliza Newman-Saul, both based in Amsterdam.
The poetry contained in the first issue is in keeping with the editors’ artistic statement regarding what constitutes a “full metal” poem:
“Full Metal Poem seeks out and propagates things irreverent, pithy, punchy, short & concise, hard-hitting (subtle or otherwise) and all / everything so truly realized and accomplished as to be unassailable, indelible, and thus full metal. It doesn’t necessarily have to explode or go boom or bang. A Richard Brautigan poem can be a full metal poem; a Philip Whalen poem can be a full metal poem; a Basho poem can be absolute full metal. We have no problems with narrative or closure but appreciate it when we see poets testing the limits of those aspects. Poems that operate on multiple levels of perception & consciousness are of particular interest to us. Beauty & honesty are fine, especially if they are of the ravaged savage variety.”
Several well known contemporary American poets, including Kent Johnson and Joanne Kyger, are included in the issue, along with some well known yet non-mainstream poets from decades past, including Cid Corman and John Wieners. Wieners’ poem, “And Language of Conversation” begins with a description of objects on a bureau and proceeds in Proustian fashion to a remembrance of childhood events that is both meditative and melancholy.
…September noons when moonsoon
torrents descended on the Patients’ Club
in Cerntral Islip, I would sit under the tin
roofs, a bundle of nerves and wish
for nothing more than this; my own room
and my parents outside, asleep in the gloom.
High-minded and colloquial, the poem employs a loose rhyme scheme and inner chiming which propels it forward and lifts it into poetry while keeping it fresh and surprising.
By using an aesthetic category as the governing factor for the journal, Kelder and Terrill have accomplished the difficult task of creating a collection of poems which is at once stylistically exclusive and generationally inclusive. The editors have hand-picked the poems they wanted included, and the result is a collection of poems which is wide-ranging yet cohesive.
One hopes other editors throughout Europe will follow Full Metal Poem‘s lead in creating a journal which establishes a high literary and artistic standard without resorting to elitism.
For more information, see: http://www.fullmetalpoem.com/