“I Made a Place for You” by Damian White and Francesco Orazzini

I don’t often review poetry that makes a point of being hard to understand. However, this poet works with an artist, and they have blended the poetry and the artwork, presumably to aid the communication. Whether it helps or not is up to the reader to decide.

This is a book of poetry that will make you work. It is a series of intellectual puzzles to solve. You must read each line, suck the marrow from it and move on to the next, struggling to make a connection between the images. Each poem has a sketch paired with it, so you have twice the number of images to deal with. Occasionally a glimmer of connection peeps through, but seldom enough to satisfy.

The brevity and simplicity of both forms is laudable. The poems are so short as to be aphorisms, a two-edged sword which helps in keeping the message uncomplicated but hinders the communication of meaning.

The artwork is very simple and more accessible to the reader, but its connection to the accompanying poem, while sometimes obvious, does not necessarily clarify the meaning of either.

Analysis of this book’s success leads to a discussion of the effect of any art on the viewer. Many art works specialize in obscurity. The intent is presumably to free the viewer’s perceptions from standard tropes and memes, and allow the artist to communicate at a deeper level. This poetry is a puzzle, and the main emotion we feel is joy at finally understanding the ideas presented.

However, this is an intellectual challenge, and if it is too difficult, the solving becomes the objective, and the joy at succeeding overwhelms the feelings the poet meant to convey.

The added visual art presents readers with another series of clues that are themselves puzzling. This adds to the complexity of the ideas but does not elicit an emotional reaction to the feelings the artist wishes to touch.

An interesting experiment that does not come off as well as hoped. It is a great puzzle to try and solve, but not enough of the artist’s feelings are communicated.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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