Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Tom de Freston’s The Charnel House – a review by R J Dent

December 16, 2014

 

The Charnel House

Tom de Freston

A review by R J Dent

 

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Although Tom de Freston refers to his book, The Charnel House, as ‘a poetic graphic novel’, it’s a hybrid book which defies easy categorization. It’s a poetry anthology; it’s a series of paintings turned into comic strip format, complete with text; it’s a moving and profound multi-authored novel. The Charnel House shares literary and artistic territory with Spiegelman’s Maus, or Moore/Gibbons’ Watchmen, or Briggs’ When the Wind Blows. It also shares some of Samuel Beckett’s tragicomic preoccupations.

The Charnel House origins lie in a series of paintings Tom de Freston has created over the past few years, featuring a horse-headed human hybrid character; a character which Freston freely admits he appropriated from Picasso’s Guernica – and which also has similarities to the horse head in Fuseli’s The Nightmare. In The Charnel House, Freston has provided horse-head with a plausible world and a coherent narrative. The Charnel House narrative follows horse-head through the various stages of its existence.

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The effectiveness of Freston’s imagery is due to the careful juxtaposition of the terrible and the harrowing with the everyday. Scenes of mutation, mutilation, torture, sadness, death, sex, love and lust take place in various domestic settings; the action is constantly framed by windows, or lit up by bare bulbs, or reflected in mirrors, thereby making the reader culpable by being vicariously voyeuristic.

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The startling, often shocking, imagery is set out on the pages in classic graphic novel style and the accompanying poetry is positioned to complement the art that inspired it. The Charnel House challenges the reader’s engagement with both subject and subject matter by the employment of ekphrasis, a technique usually defined as ‘a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art’. The Charnel House explores themes of identity and memory, love and loss, by presenting twisted and confused versions of the universal and the domestic; of reality and the nature of perception; of cruelty and suffering, and the relationship between the past, the present and the future.

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Contributions by 37 poets, each inspired by the original paintings, are set on the adjacent pages to the illustrations, and the graphic novel format and ekphrasis create a narrative. Mythology is used, historical and notable artworks are frequently referenced, as are images of modern-day political atrocities. This is where the real power of Freston’s use of ekphrasis becomes evident. Although horse-head is constantly on the cusp of revelation, of understanding exactly who and where it is, he/it is never able to actually achieve enlightenment.

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But The Charnel House, despite its name, is not all sturm und drang, screams and shrieks, nihilism and existential angst; a major theme of the collection is identity, and the preoccupations of the self. It’s intense, dark, emotional, surreal, yet deeply personal and simultaneously universal. Admittedly, it’s a very tough collection to get through, but its content is immensely rich, and the poems and the illustrations are so moving that it’s worth the effort needed to read the whole work. It’s an incredible collection.

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The Charnel House is a very experimental and incredibly powerful anthology of poems and illustrations that explore the relationship between mind and body, reality and dreams, passion, lust, and love. It’s a deep, dark, emotional collection. Ultimately, The Charnel House is a work of great depth and imagination.

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The Charnel House is available as a free e-book and as a hardback published by Bridgedoor Press.

 

Tom de Freston’s work can be found at:

www.tomdefreston.co.uk

R J Dent’s work can be found at www.rjdent.com

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Huitzilopochtli’s Dying Thoughts by R J Dent

August 29, 2014

 

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Huitzilopochtli’s Dying Thoughts

 

 

I’ve got the Tamanaco and Paris

and the bright scarlet splash of Mexico’s

flowers and life and death in my blood-stream

 

My ice sculpture now wears a sugared skull

and stares at me with melting ibis eyes

from its nest of fading rainbow fragments

 

And by the waterfall, the hummingbirds

fly in reverse, sip calico nectar

and ignore the cocooned African moon moths

 

I shake the plateau with my screech owl’s scream;

at my groan, ghost orchid stems snap and fall

(they’ll end up lining some young osprey’s nest)

 

As I die, ice melts and waterfalls stop.

I’ll return to earth as a butterfly,

or as an eagle – I don’t mind which…

 

 

© R J Dent (2014)

 

www.rjdent.com

 

 

Moonstone Silhouettes

December 25, 2008

Moonstone Silhouettes by R J Dent

This is R J Dent’s latest poetry collection, entitled Moonstone Silhouettes.

R J Dent says: ‘In this collection, which I edited in Paris, I’ve focussed mostly on the ethereal and the mystical, although there are a few elegies for lost friends, and one or two poems in praise of major writers who have influenced me.’

‘The landscapes that I describe range from the exotic (Ancient Greece and modern France) to the bizarre and the out-and-out surreal. The characters that I describe are often strange and other-worldly.’

Included in this new collection are translations of poems by Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Ibycus and Sappho. There are also elegies for four great writers: Jean Genet, Anna Kavan, Charles Baudelaire, and Tarjei Vesaas.

 

Here’s the back cover:

Moonstone Silhouettes - back cover

 

 

And here’s a link to five poems from Moonstone Silhouettes:

http://www.rjdent.com/moonstone.htm

 

R J Dent says: ‘With Moonstone Silhouettes I’ve tried to create a poetry collection in which each poem is a door that opens into another world – hopefully a beautiful world you can enter through the poem and which you can stay in for a while and enjoy – a world where warmth, beauty, joy, laughter, pleasure, happiness and eroticism co-exist peacefully and harmoniously.’

 

Moonstone Silhouettes is available from: 

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonstone-Silhouettes-ebook/dp/B004MME1GG/ref=la_B0034Q3RD4_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1361655767&sr=1-6

 

or from R J Dent’s office:

 info@rjdent.com

Further  information regarding R J Dent’s book-length translations of Alcaeus, Lautreamont, and Charles Baudelaire is available at: www.rjdent.com

 

Moonstone Silhouettes

Poems by R J Dent

© R J Dent (2013)

 

 

 

www.rjdent.com

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