T 4 2
Alec Finlay, MesoTic
A (Slack Buddha Press, 2009), 32 pp., $5.00—As the title/ lay-out of its cover indicates, Finlay’s book is a collection of mesotic poems, twenty-five, “about” mostly Chinese teas. Both the vertical form and terse, direct, language echoes lyric, that is, imperial, Chinese poetic sensibilities, particularly those influenced by its Buddhist and Confucian traditions. The beautiful design of the chapbook, the fourteen and sixteen pt. fonts, all indicate that this is a book to be viewed as much, perhaps more than, read, horizontally and vertically. Two curious features of this chapbook: (1) at the bottom of the page of each poem Finlay presents the name of the mesotically rendered tea in straightforward linear form, and (2) the poets Adrian Lurssen and Susan Tichy provide two of the poems, their initials rendered in brackets beneath the linear name of the particular "teas" they have written. As one might expect the combination of linguistic simplicity and complex design can have a strangely compelling quality.