Pamphlet review: Lallocropia 1 & 2 by Duncan Yeates

Posted: June 19, 2012 by Peter J in book review, poetry
Tags: , ,

I use a word processor now –
although when I first started
it was the
fist fight of a typewriter
that really inspired me.

The slow deliberate press,
the looping right hook of the
letter “L”; bruising the paper thin-
skin of the page.
The platelets
of ink would smudge
ever so slightly like
a real
contusion as I
punched my imaginary
audience with fists of words.

I marvel at it now – that
inarticulate barrage of blows –
body shots which missed their marks
scarring the youthful face
of prosody.

During our last fight; punch
drunk with words I tied the broken
ribbon of failure around
my hand like
gauze hand wraps.

I thought a word processor would change
me – my fingers would dance
along the keyboard like miniature Isadora Duncans
– I would use fluent feminine grace to
show subtle ideas of eloquence and perfect poetic
reserve.
I would tap the keys with the translucent grace
of errant butterflies on a bright summer lawn.

Nothing’s changed though:
as every key press still jabs at
the page with the
oblivious martyrdom
of a bee
sting.

(“Styles Make Fights” – from Lallocropia 2)

An ongoing, tragic, manic discourse doggedly fought out through a typewriter – very Lallocropia.

Lallocropia 1 and Lallocropia 2 (both written and produced by Duncan Yeates in 2012) each comprise a single sheet of A4. This simple format conceals a dense complexity of language within – “lallocropia” being a diagnostic term for a person’s tendency to use offensive vocabulary in speech, even in the most inappropriate circumstances. There is no evidence of any such cursing in these so-named pamphlets: au contraire, the language deployed is self-disciplined and direct. In fact its efficiency is what draws in the reader’s eye and mind, the rhythm and rich imagery of its blank verse sustaining attention.

Amid the unexplainable dirt,
sweet wrappers and loose change
I have hidden something.

Under the fabric greased with a thousand
sittings, a mood board to the minutiae
of everyday experience, I’ve left you
with a small work of questionable worth.

A sentiment, selected from similar ones:
not profound – a piece of fluff to be
brushed off the cushion of the consciously
cyclical motions of empirical experience.

It’s the best I can do when I write
down what’s been said so many
times, a cliché that gags on my pen
nib; that draws mucus from its influenza
flecked throat of a barrel.

It’s the most I can promise you
to say that if you discard this Rizla-thin
epithet you’ll miss no profound sentiment;
that, in its utterance, removes you from
the spell of everyday life.

However, if perchance you find it,
the gluey biro ink smeared like tears
across a “Dear John” letter, cautiously invest in it:
no reading is necessary – just the rhythmic brush of your
fingertip will
suffice.

(“A Small work of Questionable Worth” – from Lallocropia 1)

The Small Work alluded to above, for all I know, might be a note that someone rang for you half an hour ago, selling double glazing. It could be an admission that will tear your relationship free by its roots. It might be a nice little ditty. That’s the spirit of Lallocropia – there’s no way of telling what is at the the final destination of a Lallocropia poem, but it’s a rough and fun hike getting there, even if you’ll need your helmet, boots and crampons on the way to gazing into that misty, Brocken spectre of a view from the end. Speaking of which, you’ll probably need an encyclopedia too: names are dropped eruditely and playfully like mantraps for anyone following the poems’ scent too closely.

Duncan’s best work in Lallocropia 1 & 2 happens where, in unforced runs of sense, a tale is told, a point made, an important argument calmly passed on in text clear, compelling and concise. That’s my opinion – but then the verses of Lallocropia are often deliberately diffuse and very hard to focus on. Enough to make you curse. 🙂

You cannot force time. The fiercest push on the plunger of the hypodermic syringe that contains it only emits a wheedling stream. Nevertheless, you plunge it into your bloodstream; feel that limiting prick of consciousness on skin. When you were a child and the first set of goose bumps erupted on your skin like mini adrenal volcanoes, this was your first revelation of mortality – your first taste of time.

(from Lallocropia 2)

This review has included a taster of Lallocropia and Lallocropia 2: for copies, please just e-mail Duncan at lallocropia@gmail.com , sending your postal address, and he’ll send you it in pamphlet form. Duncan’s inventory of poetry will be featured in future on Cornish Lit blog.

Notes:

Isadora Duncan


Duncan Yeates lives in Redruth, and is a founder member of Red River Poets. He has published various non-fiction articles and regularly performs his poetry at The Melting Pot in Redruth (where he helped to organise and promote the recent spoken word event) and The Unplugged Chameleon in St Ives – in fact he’ll be with the other Red River Poets, and many more, at the Be Spoken Word event in the Farmers Arms, Penzance, this Wednesday 20th (tomorrow) @ 7:30pm. Duncan’s appearance with Sue Farmer on Redruth Radio’s Do The Write Thing, on Friday 15th June, can be listened to online [EDIT: CL blog just listened to that and now probly ‘gets’ A Small Work of Questionable Worth a bit better :-)]. His first short poetry collection, Lallocropia, can be found hiding inside in the poetry books of Redruth Library or wherever else he might carelessly decide to leave it for your edification. Lallocropia 2, too, has now been produced. To contact him or to receive a free copy of Lallocropia, please e-mail: lallocropia@gmail.com.

However, no one told you that time was an apocryphal drug not demonised on a school notice board alongside the warnings against cigarettes and vices of an expiring adult consciousness. Vices are time’s children. She has killed her healthy children and nurtured the runts. Weak, febrile, clawless and desperate they cling to every piece of borrowed time that wasn’t their birthright. They hate you if you do not feel your obligation, remember your entitlement, to her. They hate their mother too for making them take their pathetically grateful part on the lowest rung of humanity’s all consuming blackening addiction to immortality.We all try and cheat time – . . .

. . . And is it any wonder that a period is a perfect circle and like the snake that devours its own tail, nothing can stop time from making us devour ourselves ?

(continued from Lallocropia 2)


Prior to writing this review, being less than familiar with the form of pamphlet as medium, I hit Google and dug out a crash course. Obvious is the value imparted, enforced by their energetic brevity, “their very smallness made them feel special” as this Guardian article “Return of the Poetry Pamphlet” by Jackie Kay notes: “the wee malt as opposed to the big pint.” The article is well-endowed with links to pamphlets – the idea of freebie or chap/cheap books ties in with the w w web’s open access ethos. Pamphlets’ frugally short print runs give more of a sense of connectedness with author to the pamphlet’s reader as well, who is far more closely participating in the poet’s venture than is the purchaser of the hundred-thousandth glossy paperback in W H Smith. Cooperation between pamphlet producers is hearteningly alive – Scottish Pamphlet Poetry helps promotion and development in Scotland, while since 2009 the British Library and Poetry Society have organised the Michael Marks poetry pamphlet awards. Pamphlet producers in Cornwall include Hassle Press of St Ives (see previous review of John Phillips’ poetry) – Craig Taylor-Broad’s In Absence of Clear Conscience (qv) also fitted this format. A vital form for polemics and breaking artists, pamphlets show considerable signs of resilience against, as well as with, computerised media – it remains to be seen whether an age of austerity, discontent and activism will effectively harness this low-tech, un-jammable, IP address-less, strikingly personal medium.

Cornish Lit blog looks forward to volunteers to submit reviews – logistically it should be possible to start making the blog a bit more diverse from about the end of June. Thanks for sticking with us. 🙂

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Comments
  1. leander42 says:

    Good god almighty. A typewriter! Loading the paper, fiddling to keep it straight. Do I have enought space to finish the line before clipping the carriage round its left ear, sending it staggering to my left (a real knock out blow). The typos, immortal typos. I don’t know how I managed.

    • Pete says:

      🙂 Now we are all gone lightweights. Don’t know we’re living. Maybe we should heave the laptops & bubblejets out the window and go back to ribbons & shift levers, toughen ourselves up (“the first rule of typewriter club is …”) & live the dream. Or not.

      • leander42 says:

        Truth be told – I prefer longhand. My fingers belong to me, keys with letters on them belong to the devil.

  2. lallocropia says:

    Thank you Pete for a kind and thought provoking review. Anyone interested in Lallocropia might like to know that I have produced number three. Written in the same format as one and two it contains another poem and short story. Free copies are available to anyone who e-mails: lallocropia@gmail.com. Also, I am looking to include contributors in number four so please e-mail me if you are interested.

  3. […] Yeates has just released Lallocropia 3; regular readers may remember Pete’s sumptuous review of Lallocropia 1 & 2 for Cornish Literature earlier this year.  Like those earlier works, Lallocropia 3 takes the […]

  4. […] writer Abi Wyatt has news of a second Murder of Krows Anthology, co-edited by Abi and Duncan Yeates, which is due to be launched in the autumn at The Melting Pot in Redruth. Along with special […]

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