Title: The Alchemist’s Mind
Author: David Miller
Page Count/Review Word Count: 267
Boy, if there ever was a tricky book to classify then this is it. The Alchemist’s Mind is “a book of narrative prose by poets”, and it’s edited by rather than written by David Miller, though he does contribute some work of his own – ‘True Points‘, a narrative poem about, well, nothing in particular.
See, that’s sort of the point – Miller quotes Edouard Roditi in his introduction: “Traditional notions of plot, character and environment… are here profoundly modified.” He also quotes fellow poet Roy Fisher, who referred to “additive form”, where “each section [of a work] was written in an attempt to refer only to what had I had already written in that work, and without any drive forward at all.”
What we have here is a bunch of innovative poets taking their love for language a step further and seeing where it leads them, and I fully approve of it. Language is a beautiful and occasionally mysterious thing, and it’s enlightening to read something that’s completely decontextualised, to form your own conclusions as to the author’s true intentions, and if such intentions even exist. But with the quality of the language, does it really even matter? I don’t think so.
It’s experimental for sure, but experimental-ism isn’t for everyone – I enjoyed it and I’d recommend it if you share my taste in poetry. If you don’t know who Ezra Pound is, you probably don’t qualify. Still, well done David Miller, and well done Reality Street!