Sunday, August 6, 2017



Taropoetics by Anna McKerrow
(Knives Forks and Spoons Press, Newton-le-Willows, U.K., 2010)

For Taropoetics, Anna McKerrow explains at the beginning of her chapbook that the writing process involved consulting five tarot cards shuffled and dealt at random once a week for an entire year. The free-written text was then collated and edited for the chapbook. Inspired by the works of John Cage, Jackson MacLow and Hannah Weiner, the influence is quite clear.

The poems, short combinations of words separated by forward slashes, are very dense. I had to take my time reading them—only devouring a few at a time, before taking a break. However, it doesn't mean I wasn't enjoying them. Quite the opposite—I love the way they appear so concrete (like the poetry of Steve McCaffery), yet they are mixed with a certain tenderness. The unusual imagery also reminds me of Maggie O'Sullivan.

The images were contradictory, violent, delicate. Some of my favourite sections include:

(13): 'sharp capitals/cut/bring blood through/eye shadow/cheeks sucked in from the top/gaunt fear/list those purple days/soft lashes on bloody barbs/kohl shadow wipe/violet cringe/bloodshot curve...'

(42): 'all my blood for yours/there is nothing left/to give/forgive it all/dim cling to wet coverage/wet walls/thin ground/fire burns surface grass on horizon/dry winds pull above/rakes trails into sand/volcanic space under...'

Sometimes, there is also repetition used in Taropoetics. This in particular adds to the softer moments throughout the chapbook. At first, the format of the poems might seem daunting and you might be tempted to try to fully understand the process behind the poems but please don't--just enjoy the poetry for what it is. Just digest the brilliant images interwoven with language that can be both viscous and tender in the same breath.


Nikki Dudley grew up and lives in London. Nikki has two novels, 'Ellipsis' and 'Semblance'. Her poetry collection, 'hope alt delete', is available from the knives forks and spoons press. Her chapbook 'exits/origins' was also published by the knives forks and spoons press in 2010. One of her poems was featured in the Blackpool Illuminations 2016. She also co-edits experimental writing magazine, streetcake, who are always open for submissions. Read more on her blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment