Skip to main content

Guest Review: Gibb On Parker

Alison Gibb reviews
from The Mountain of California …

from The Mountain of California … is the first collection of poetry by British poet R.T.A. Parker.  A travel log cum romantic adventurer’s diary: this collection of poems spans fourteen world cities, four non-places and comes with two Californian maps. It is a sequence of one hundred and twenty poems that explores ideas of language and poetry, presented in near identical form. Parker brings together ideas of discovery, encounter, memory, travel, time and romance to create compelling records of places and events.

Each page of the collection looks roughly the same. Each poem is the same shape and size, is titled and is made up of four, three-line stanzas. Every line contains one or two caesura pause breaks, indicated by a single line, i.e. |. At first glance you would be forgiven for dismissing this format as nothing more than a personalized graphic gimmick. However, after reading a handful of poems it is evident that Parker has created a type of loose frame, which through its repetition dissolves, allowing the text to overcome the fixed form. Parker splits words, phrases and breaks lines in inventive ways. He includes grammatical symbols and photography to create subtle differing poetic experiments from poem to poem. Here, language is purposely disrupted to produce surprising effects and pleasing new meanings:

(9. Aquatic Park, stanza 1)

I love | you your | hover
Pack, one | thing in | the world.
In Cal | iforn | ia

(26.Pacific, stanza 1)

IAN,  really  | reptil
Ian   | Venus  | Big Sur

(104. England, stanza 1)

IN THE  | dark this  one time,
The first  | time,  | hair
Fragrant,  | the light  | flicking.

Beneath each poem is a footnote referring to a draft number and to a city. The city of origin may be or a reference to where the poem was written; it is hard to know for sure. Not that I think this matters much to Parker.  Parker’s text is full references from literature, philosophy and popular culture that may mean something to one reader and nothing to another. His poetry invites his readers in and takes them on a journey of their own: through forests, across seas, up to the skies and into the possibilities of language. Parker’s experiments are refined and gentle. The visual clarity of words and the use of largely everyday language make it possible to read lines with or without recognizing the breaks. Sentences are long and occasionally continue from page to page, asking the reader to rethink where a poem starts and ends in this shifting collection of poetry:

(65. Niles –Sunol, stanza 4 to 66 [Niles-Sunol], stanza 1)

Droop branch  | tips to  | soil &
Needle  | blanket ;   sure
Touch  | spark-bright ;  a

Tangle  | the clothes  | remain
In the  | needle  | [Vere
Lendung] ;  | bark tracks  | before

These poems are a pleasure to read. With his steadfast tone and meticulous presentation, Parker leads his readers through a world, where humour easily mixes with philosophy to create bursts of brightness and crisp exacting poetry. This is summed up nicely in this last playful stanza of this serious first collection:


Ing our  | combi  | nations
Remain  | little  | kisses
Become  | great big | kisses.

Alison Gibb is an MFA student at Kingston University in Creative Writing, a poet and artist.  She lives in Cambridge.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:

HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!