M.Stow12 (Universe Verses 1: Stellation, 2015) presents the first volume of a long poem.
Using concepts borrowed from mythology, pop culture, and cosmology, the author offers readers the first section of a verse saga, described as both “an eschatological mystery re-solved” and “an Anthropic Odyssey: Being a topological themed mystery ride through: The Cosmos.” Replete with imagery of nuclear war and space travel, the poem seems to offer a narrative of mankind’s future flight away from Earth (or “EarthCentre”) and of a corresponding journey of the soul through life and into the afterlife. The specifics of the story, however, are somewhat obscured by the density of the language. Much of the time, the verse reads almost like sound poetry, with words chosen for their phonetics as much as for their semantics: “As baked-through Hadean Inferno internal-torched. / Super-Solar scorched gloating bloating boating / Gloaming gloomy gleaning gleaming / Stranded stricken nail-bite shielding un-welded heaving-to.” Numerous endnotes explain the many references that dot the verses (“Zelda is a modern feminine battling computer-game character…Link is the self-styled game-player”), though they rarely shed much light on what’s transpiring in the poem itself. M.Stow12 includes a number of photographs throughout, depicting everything from ancient artwork to models of supernovae to diagrams of atoms to charts comparing the development of embryos of various species. The poet has an impressive lyrical skill, with roiling meters and compounding rhythms that are sometimes reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins’. The poetry is especially pleasing when spoken out loud, as M.Stow12 encourages the reader to do. That said, the poem’s meaning is highly esoteric, and although readers can get some sense of its themes, they will more often be reading blindly, without much sense of purpose. The illustrations, most of which appear to be clip art, come off as tacky, and the endnotes seem to be intended more to reveal the poet’s influences than to elucidate the project. Dedicated readers may be inspired to try to “re-solve” this mystery, but more casual fans of poetry will likely tire of the work after a few murky pages.
An aesthetically pleasing but largely unintelligible poetic work.