Taken for Granted

Anticipating the Metaverse, Dylan Harris
£12, Knives Forks and Spoons)
The Last Museum of Laughter
, D.E. Oprava
£12, Knives Forks and Spoons)

I've reviewed several books from Knives Forks and Spoons Press in recent months, and there have been a number of occasions during that process when I wondered if the publisher ever actually reads what is being published under their imprint, or if the idea of editing what they publish ever occurs to them. Encountering Dylan Harris's Anticipating the Metaverse, I find myself not only asking the same questions, but also giving in to the temptation to ask those questions here, for you to share the joy.

So, Cutlery Press, do you
? And does it?

What pushed me to ask the questions here is not so much the poetry in this book, though that's dire enough, but the essay by the poet that acts as an "afterword". It's so rife with bad grammar and downright poor writing that if I were the publisher I'd be ashamed to lend my name to it.

You want examples? Here  are some:

   "there has been many more works..."
   "devices to be surgical implanted"
   "So I did considered how..."
   "So are them all."

Do they need an editor or a proofreader? Or both?

As for the poetry, it's about as well-written as the essay. By the time I reached page 36, and came up against "they might get banned", I figured a poet (I use the word lightly) who decides that the word "get" is a good choice here does not deserve my time. Someone might enjoy reading bad writing, but I

And as for the "science" the poetry is apparently about - parallel universes and future worlds and such like - well, I'll stick to not watching Star Trek
, I think. Given that the writer spends most of his explanatory essay "explaining" how he has abused and misrepresented his source material, and admits to not aiming for any kind of accuracy (or, as he puts it in his inimitable grammar: "I make no pretence of any effort of accuracy")... well, I'm out of here.

Except there's one more Knife and Fork and Spoon to do. And here it comes. And then it will all be over.

D.E. Oprava's The Last Museum of Laughter is another hefty volume as slim volumes of poetry go, but at least the guy can write. But it could be that he writes too much. We shall never know.

The book stands out for two reasons. Reason One is the quite appalling illustrations, that fall somewhere between Aubrey Beardsley on a bad day and doodling by a teenage girl who likes Aubrey Beardsley on a bad day. They are best glossed over.

Reason Two is that the poems are arranged in columns, thus (I choose at random):

            the nightly
  on offer
         picture show
      always leaves
       the last scene

  on our bedclothes   fanning out
          as we walk
   into fields
  through the door
    where time
        into daylight

I would love to tell you which poem this is from, but I lost the page while I was fighting with Word™ to get the format right. Whether or not Mr. Loydell will be able to get the format right I have no idea.[He can't - Ed] But since the poems are all part of sequences it's of not much importance. This kind of form, or something very similar, has been done before and, to be honest, much more interestingly. John Ashbery's "Litany" springs to mind, but that's in another poetry universe. Here we have fairly straightforward poems that read without difficulty going down each column. I'll be honest, they do throw up some pleasing  word-partnerships by reading across from one column to another, but I think the results are a mixture of the intentional and the accidental. In short, the form seems largely unnecessary, especially stretched to patience-breaking-point over almost 200 pages. But the guy can write, and though I'm not massively interested in what he does write (every page I've looked at - I've not read it all; who has the time?  - seems somewhat domestic and lovelorn) you have to give credit where credit is due. This is, after all, a Knives Forks and Spoons and other assorted cutlery publication, and that one of their poets can actually write is not something to be taken for granted.

    © Martin Stannard, 2015