Review of Marc Awodey's Head to Head
edited: Saturday, November 24, 2001
By Ian Thal
Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2001
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This review originally appeared in a slightly different version in the August 9, 2001 edition of Ibbetson Street Press Update.
Head to Head. Marc Awodey. (Minimal Press, c/o Rhombus Gallery, 186 College Street, Burlington, VT 05401. marcawodey.mac.com. 2000.) $6
The world of English language haiku is one fraught with friendly disputes over what rules apply when adapting such a distinctly Japanese form. Marc Awodey, Haiku Champion for the 2000 Poetry Slam Nationals, has forged his own path, dispensing with line or syllable counts, playing with line breaks and spacing, implying both the cadences of spoken American English, and the visual schemes of concrete poetry. One consequence is that a review quotation cannot always capture the impact of many of these unconventional poems. In “The lights/ of your far off city reflect/ across clouds/ and/ photographs,” the arrangement of the words imply the spiraling image of the cloud that appears in Chinese and Japanese art.
The poems describe both the streets of Burlington and surrounding New England woods as well as capturing the essential day to dayness of poets’ lives: the house chores, the need to commit something to paper at odd times, the quality of pens, pencils and paper, and the frustration of forgetting a poem before they can be committed to paper .
It would be negligent not to mention the unconventional design of this eye catching chapbook. The book is bound on the shorter edge with binder’s tape. The cover is a modified manila envelope with the clasp and flap removed and an ink jet portrait of Awodey and short history of Minimal Press. Each purple 11”x8.5” page holds three short poems that leave a visually pleasing negative space and encourage careful reading. The font chosen is one that simulates the eccentricities of an old manual typewriter that hints at the eccentricities of the writer at work creating something that is pleasingly unusual.