Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fenn Stewart's above/ground chapbook, An OK Organ Man, is reviewed in Broken Pencil #57

Justin F. Ridgeway was good enough to review Fenn Stewart’s above/ground chapbook, An OK Organ Man (above/ground press, 2012) in Broken Pencil #57 (autumn 2012 issue). Thanks, Justin! There are a few copies still available, here. Although I admit to still not understanding why so many reviewers in Broken Pencil seem not to comprehend that not all folded/stapled are “zines.” Why can’t they call them chapbooks?
Reading this poetry zine, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not quite poetry-illiterate. It makes me ask myself: Is this why I read fiction? Do I need it spelled out for me with sentences and paragraphs and familiar punctuation to hold my hand and read to me while I fall asleep where dreams are the closest thing to an imagination I have? As it turns out, this zine made poetry feel a little closer, a little more welcome, a little more familiar.
            Fenn Stewart’s zine follows a nature study club and a Classics club when they find themselves double-booked into one of those stuffy, wood-paneled university classrooms. Or maybe they are in nature – the Classics club, that is – and they’re discussing Lake Ontario, its fish and other aquatic species. Through the poems they describe the vegetation and the region’s life cycles in speech that sounds like humming birds, delicate but with determination and purpose, exhibiting a syntactical playfulness and careful word selection. One can only admire the precise angle through which a phrase is turned.
            Even as a poetry neophyte, this work drew me in, and I appreciated the amorphous quality of the atmosphere and setting.

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