A central premise of Amelia Dale’s work is that it is entirely unconcerned with the valence of the work itself. She makes a poem that is a thing before it is a poem, a thing that never wants to be a ‘poem,’ that nevertheless is or gains something when we call it a poem. Here I want to spend some time with Amelia Dale’s 2015 poem TRACTOSAUR, published by Troll Thread in 2015.
A Word doc, for example (the origin of her PDF poems), a file type with a fairly rudimentary and utilitarian purpose, becomes for Dale a playful space in which the poem can extend itself beyond its limits. The format — an electronic file of white rectangular frames/pages with a basic sans serif font and a wonderfully gnarly-looking illustration rendered in MS Paint or similar — gives us a thing that wants to decimate our concept of the poem, of even the illustrated poem.
The first chapbook I’m looking at, Break Me Ouch by Michael Farrell (3 Deep Publishing, 2006), is a book of poems arranged as though they are panels in a comic book. Through this I want to observe how illustrations might amend our reading of poems, not just accompanying the poem but, in this case, forming the integral structure of the page itself.