Book Review

POETRY MONTH: The Rink by Aaron Kent

poetry cannot exist outside of the world

This 2018 chapbook from British indie Dostoyevsky Wannabe (publisher of many interesting and fun books, including Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff, Queen Mob’s Teahouse: Teh Book and Judson Hamilton’s Gross In Feather, Loud In Voice) is a super interesting and very very visual set of poems and images from Broken Sleep Books’ Aaron Kent.

The Rink contains [images of] poems placed over the top of various items (other poems, papers, photos, diagrams, documents), many of which explore ideas around family, around fears of nuclear apocalypse, as well as explorations of influence and tradition in the field of poetry.

Kent includes here erasure poems, a type of poetry I always enjoy (though have never thought to create myself (maybe I will!)) and the variety of materials used as the background for the poems evokes the widespread and complex relationship we all have with the texts we read and the ways in which their influence reflects upon the poetry we produce.

Kent includes blurred and obscured texts by other poets, he uses drawings he has made himself, drawings produced by other people, annotated drafts of his own work – similar to those included in the Broken Sleep Books Anthology 2018 – as well as pages from his own academic work when a student, and a diagram of instructions for a fallout shelter to be built in the event of a nuclear explosion (I think that’s what it was but maybe I misinterpreted?)

I think – for me, at least – the message conveyed by The Rink is one that is very valuable for poets, writers – and artists more generally – to remember.

Though it is not common practice to include a full bibliography at the end of creative works in the way that it is with criticism or academic/non-fictional writing, to think that our writerly work is detached from the context of real life is a fantasy.

When we put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, or (as I often do these days) turn on speech-to-text on my phone while I’m walking my dog and talk like nobody’s watching, we are not only creating some kind of aperture between our own souls and the blankness in front of us, but we become a conduit and a representative, a result of all of the things and ideas we have previously encountered.

Things we learnt at school, magazines we glanced at, other people’s work, other people’s lives, doodles we made, thoughts we have in the shower, things that piss us off, things that excite us, things that distract us…

Writing anything creatively, in my opinion, is not something that happens in a vacuum, detached from real life, it is absolutely and always a result of the circumstances around which the creator was existing when they made that work.

Maybe I’m extrapolating from this pamphlet, and maybe Aaron Kent just used these backgrounds because he thought they looked cool, but for me, through my reading of this text, I believe it offers a supremely valid and often ignored comment on the interconnectedness of our creative practice[s] and the parts of our life that are not that.

This is super interesting, thought-provoking set of works.

Available to order POD direct from Amazon at a very reasonable price! If anyone has a purchase link where the money goes more directly to independent booksellers please drop a link in the comments and I will amend here!

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