April 5, 2009

Poems of Darkheartedness

by Nick Montfort · , 6:00 pm

. . . .
This strange world. Not a blank
space of delightful mystery, a light
heart, its black thoughts, its body at rest.
Were we men enough to affirm
the whole universe? No one knew.

Eric Scovel and Gnoetry 0.2 have a new Beard of Bees publication. There are some very intruiging lines and phrases in “a light heart, its black thoughts,” which Scovel describes as “a sonnet cycle using only Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as input.” The seventeen fourteen-line poems in the free chapbook, curious tool-assisted centos, interestingly recast the text of the novel, which Scovel claims not to have read. The poems aren’t in verse, and the connection to the sonnet seems tenuous to me, but I think dwelling on that, or the difficulties in lineation, may lead one to miss more interesting struggles and accomplishments here. In his blog about writing this chapbook, Scovel gives some insights into these when he says that he feels the collaboration with Gnoetry

helped me to write about issues of love, sex, separation, knowledge, philosophy, war, economics, and globalization–basically the subjects of personal and political concern/despair that I have been dealing with–in a way that surprises and moves me. It is a very intuitive process, and it is a deeply personal process. … Conrad’s work … serves for me as a source of language from which I can make statements about my understanding and impressions of myself and the world from a distance that often feels liberating.