Some disequilibria from Otoliths

Otoliths Issue 48 came out in February with over 100 contributors, and so I’m browsing at unfair speed.  Pieces that attracted my attention include Cecelia Chapman’s ‘My Pad is your Pad: Landing Pad Communiques’, an asemic poem in which scrawled lists themselves hover over colourful icons representing drones, helipads, crop circles and the like.  There’s something in the way the perspective is shifted – looking down – seeming to comment on the aerial quality of writing, its military aspect, a control from above, unsettling, at odds with the cheerful palette.  

Jacqueline M. Perez is compelling in Dementia, in which the form captures the sense of a thread just beyond grasp, as words go missing or insinuate themselves.  The poem problematizes agency and the sense of a stable speaker – as much in the observer as the sufferer – and opens up wider social questions inherent in family relationships.   Here’s how it begins:

People judge you Mother give life, she
don’t believe you, would never
me. It seemed that tyrannical. Her but
you generally all terrorist on her want
harshly when you they don’t to be a
mother are try to all worst. She

Then there’s J. D. Nelson, whose short poem ‘slot left / slot right’ provokes formal reflection while seeming to barely twitch a muscle, playing as it does off the binary set up by the title, with what seems like a wry dig at frontier Americana.  If I start, I’ll quote it all, so just click the link.

Jonathan Catherall