NewPages.com is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.

to be hung from the ceiling by strings of varying length

  • Image: Image
  • Book Type: Poetry
  • by: Rick Reid
  • Date Published: April 2009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-933354-76-7
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 100pp
  • Price: $15.95
  • Review by: Cynthia Reeser

Rick Reid’s full-length book of poetry, to be hung from the ceiling by strings of varying length, reads like a flip book in which lines have been inverted and language turned on its head. When read through quickly without too deep an analysis, the language evokes the impression of a fractured scene. Not only the imagery, but also the language is fragmented, the poet’s linguistic ear sometimes approximating that of an ESL speaker.

The book reads like one long poem, and there is little separation between pieces. All can be read as parts of a whole. If the poet had dropped an epic poem and it shattered, this is its reconstruction. Lacking titles for the individual poems, to be hung from the ceiling is an evocative image for the book’s format. The poems can easily be imagined as suspended strings: this is poetry as installation art. In this example, individual poems are separated by asterisks:

lie one wave
remember

the shore sky

*

not this in fingers

*

the wheel by
glass
a river

leaving left
arrives

*

square a square
shot or sung
with light

For all the random-seeming effects, Reid displays a cleverly original sensibility in his use of both form and language. Sometimes he uses the two elements to convey an idea, as in the following excerpt, in which the author communicates the idea of a pause or stop with caesura:

a picture
accurate and
cold
at hand
paused
landscape of
again – begin
a stop desire
between
leaves

Sometimes the language and form leave the reader with the sense of bearing witness to the middle of a scene; in these instances, the effect is nearly filmic and functions like a visual snippet or something from the cutting room floor – an effect that is enhanced by the overall sense of one long poem being at work. The end result is a sort of phasing from one thing, image or idea into another from poem to poem in a not-quite-enjambment.

One of the drawbacks to using such random language is that it has the tendency to devolve into ambiguity; for some readers, the randomness may be too random and acquire nearly the feel of something resulting from a text generator, such as in poems like the following:

further that
they’re there
are their
time is
than here
they’re out

But overall, Reid does a nice job of evoking moments in time and parallel images that coincide and entangle with one another to create an overall effect. Reid is able through form and language to capture the transient and intangible notions that usually reside just on the fringes of consciousness.

Return to List.
Review Posted on July 01, 2009 Last modified on July 01, 2009
newpages-footer-logo

We welcome any/all Feedback.