Magazines #8

overland 204

overland 204 cover
overland 204 cover

My favourite poem from Jill Jones's recent Dark Bright Doors (Wakefield 2010) was the uncharacteristically (relatively) aggressive 'Leaving it to the Sky', which included memorable lines like 'I'm having a yak with a piece of paper'. It showed another side to the generally more philosophical - if problematising - poet. A new poem 'Misinterpretations/ or the Dark Grey Outline' in overland 204 continues to work this mode.

Like 'Leaving...' the more ambitiously titled 'Misinterpretations' makes use of direct statement and capitalised phrases:

the other day I read

I had a sort of degree, but I ain't, no way Hose-Bloody-Zay


Perhaps I am Missing Pages Out Of My Life

The musical meshing is still there, but these newer effects are rawer, rougher, more 'live'. The capitalising in particular provide a new level of commentary, as if undoing the subordination that a poem can be read as having - to its title or ostensible subject matter. The more frequent use of direct address seems to reflect an impatience with readers, as if Jones has waited long enough to be understood (cue title): now it's time to do a bit of telling. This is collage not just of language or diction, but of poetic and affective modes (such as impatience) - all Jones. The impatience is not apparently just with readers, but with a too-easy ecopoetic. Like 'Leaving ...' ('I don't belong to generation green') it makes dismissive gestures towards a 'mixed up' green; and when it's water that's 'green, or grey' a poetics of disgust is not too far off (the poem is printed white, on a not too easy to read green). Jones shrugs off any readers who want to identify her as a contemporary eco-friendly product, that's a bit more expensive than the generic brand but better for the soul/conscience/planet. It's a broader, more assertive platform for Jones's brand of projective verse, and one that bodes well for a midcareer future.

It's as if there's a new sense that indeterminacy, and uncertainty can be presented in a more determined and bold fashion:

I used to know what I was thinking,

now its a field, inside,

I want more - bring out the field's rubbish, shout! There's always been something very mortal about Jones's poems; 'stretching the envelope' as yesterday's cliche had it, is not about extending something separate to ourselves. There are rat traps going off all the time and some of them are inside us. Close readers watch out!