Wednesday, November 2, 2011
derek beaulieu's Seen of the Crime
As November rolls in and the days become shorter and cooler, cafés and pubs around town are packing up their lawn furniture. This is precisely why you should grab yourself a copy of derek beaulieu’s seen of the crime post-haste. The slim volume of essays on conceptual and experimental poetics is the perfect book to read on a patio, the short chapters punctuated by people watching and sips of your favourite beverage, or to debate over a pint or two with your best poet pals. Rather than being heavy with citations or hemmed in by monomaniacal scholarly literary analysis, beaulieu’s text allows each chapter to breathe, looking at each individual poet discussed, from Goldsmith to Bisset to Bergvall, on their own terms. The lack of oppressive theme makes seen an excellent book to push against. Since the chapters are not shackled to each other, as a reader, you feel as though you are entering a discussion with beaulieu. By writing in an open, episodic way, beaulieu has created a text that invites us in. Should a certain section leave you skeptical, you need not abandon the book, but continue reading to discover what other subject matter will be covered. This open, episodic construction also make seen an ideal prompt for discussions and debates about the literature that the text covers. The book is a pleasure to read because it infuses contemporary poetry with life. In the second chapter of the book, beaulieu discusses his own obsession with bookstores and building his book collection, framing seen as an exposé of one writer’s individual tastes and inspirations. Though beaulieu discusses literature that is conceptual, impersonal, and non-expressive, this framing of seen seems to emphasize the role of the reader as thinker, critic, and creator. This is a poet’s book about poetry. Again, the episodic chapters convey how individual writers build their creative practice in response to texts they admire and writers who inspire them. seen of the crime is a wonderful example of how exciting and inspiring debating and discussing poetry can be, and is sure to leave you ready to write. In a world of closed scholarly texts debating the minutiae of worn out canonical texts, seen is a lively and varied exploration of contemporary poets and their practice. I’m a friend of derek’s, and reading seen of the crime is uncannily like sitting down for a coffee or pint with him. Every time I see him, he inevitably produces at least four or five chapbooks or books by authors I’ve never heard of, each as exciting as the last, and all readily applicable to my own writing practice. beaulieu not only loves reading and writing, but also sharing the books that energize him. Sit down with seen of the crime over a coffee or pint, and I guarantee beaulieu’s enthusiasm will leave you pumped about reading and writing. The first piece in the book may beg, Please, no more poetry, but the book leaves me thinking, Please, more books about poetry like this one.