Monday, July 27, 2009

'Tuk-tuk' reviewed

Stylus magazine has published an interesting review of The Best Australian Poems 2008. What's interesting is that the reviewer, Simon Patton, takes a critical stance. He spends most of the review pointing out what he doesn't like about Australian poetry. Call me perverse, but I enjoyed the read, which included this dissection of my poem, 'Tuk-tuk':

"'Tuk-tuk' is frustrating: it blends textures in a deliberately incongruous way, and yet incongruity is a part of what the poem seeks to tackle, the mismatch between mass-produced music, mass-produced images and tawdry reality:

San Francisco, O San Francisco
I can no longer - could I ever - dream you in dreams that smoulder
Like a deserted desert street after the explosion.
So, San Francisco, so I Google you unfiltered,
Scroll down the dimpled thumbnails of amateur porn;
Each coupling couple coupling tediously towards dawn
While I lie, an actor on the queen-sized stage,
And yawn.


I tuk-tuked to a stop and stared back at a pair of immortal eyes
Staring into the mirror of my servo sunnies
Out of the mask of a model face
That could appear flawless if its humanity was blown up,
Out of all proportion,
Billboard size,
To cover the slab side of some piece of concrete brutalism –
Selling the product, the promise, the lie
Of immortal youth.

"San Francisco the dream is brought at once into abrupt contact with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Site 300, a place where testing of nuclear material takes place. The degradation continues with the description of 'dimpled thumbnails of amateur porn', the word 'dimple' suggesting a vulnerable human quality alongside the harsh, trivial 'thumbnails'.

"The degradation of the sexual act is enacted in the repetitiveness of 'Each coupling couple coupling tediously'. The poem plays artfully with the tension between contemporary references and conventional end-rhyme: 'porn' chimes discordantly with the poetic word 'dawn', while the two resolve in the final 'yawn'.

"Later in the poem, the same tension continues: 'eyes' rhymes with 'sunnies'. The punning on 'was blown up' is perhaps a little obvious, but its use helps to underscore the links suggested in the text between consumerism and the threat of destruction. Desire is suggested in the expression 'immortal eyes', but such desire is at once threatened by mechanical reproduction – Staring into the mirror of my servo sunnies / Out of the mask of a model face – at once narcissistic and 'masked' (that is, that face both conceals and falsifies in some fundamental sense what it projects)."

Read the full review.

Read all of 'Tuk-Tuk' at Jacket magazine.

1 comment:

nathan curnow said...

hey JD.

I was happy to get a mention in such fine company. :) I quite enjoyed the read too!

cheers mate/love to fam

& thanks for this otherwise I might have missed it