Burns’ apparently is a cornucopia of poems where there is a tunnel and the readers enter at their own risk: the risk of being transported into the author’s subliminal world. Perhaps better described as a parallel universe where one encounters the amalgamation of the abstract and the concrete, which travels within the confines of meaning, purpose and beauty.
apparently is divided into four sections. The first section titled “planchettes” was inspired by crossword puzzles and the result is a collection of short poems which reflects Burns’ talent with words. The poems are short but not divorced of conundrums, philosophical thoughts or politics. Here is an example:
world politics gone queasy
the oligarch skates through
reclaimed savannah in his
alopecia jumpsuit, improvisation
shrewd as hoodwinker monk
time to hoist the vinyl archived
at the alpine sanitorium, all night
jam sessions over lake basson;
eventually treaties discreet as miniature
cutlets, abacus beads abandoned like
out of date beluga a quarter of
cartographers flown in like sympathy
Some of the poems in “planchettes” are adorned with humour like Rainbow Sprinkles on Fairy Bread, a humour that is colourful yet subtle. Burns plays with words; she controls them and arranges them in delicious brain morsels. The poems lead the readers not only to understand the sometimes difficult meaning of the poems but also to reflect on what is being said. Judge for yourself:
the première of alcopops
on the astroturf —
the odometer was no tamer
of jellyfish larceny tenderloin
moments in the harlequin surf
the revamp alumni executive
booked a course in psychoflorescence
in the yukon, etymology more
demure than balderdash
The second section in “apparently” shares the same title and contains short pieces of narrative prose/poetry. These are very concise and meticulous pieces inspired by Burns’ dreams, allowing a glimpse into the phantasmagorical, if not disjointed, dream world of the author. As a psychologist, I became enchanted by the words trying to find the occult messages elaborated in the deepest chambers of the brain. In her dreams, Burns visits the Sanctuary of Asclepius, a Californian Bungalow, a vaulted hall…what enigmas are hidden in these places? I had to force myself to the next section.
Burns undoubtedly has a very skilled penmanship and the talent to say much with very few words, like in the third section of the book titled “dial”, where we find very intelligent similes and other literary devices. In “dial”, Burns touches terra firma and brings up issues of earthly concerns. If Burns wrote music, I would say she does not miss a beat, whether she raises issues about the past or the present, she does with conviction, with vivid imagery and poignant comments, like in “nod”.
the breath or history
the mumur, roar
the silences deep and
full and fresh the dark
bush across the harbour
the rocks the headland
the swimmers the seagulls on
the shore a twilight moment
backdropped by all the smug
and lavish houses that recede
as you sit and sense the place
long before the tall ships came;
the notches in this blue ribbon
belt of harbour off like
discarded fancy dress
In “dial” we found longer pieces of narrative poetry, even one set as a script piece; in these the words are crammed together, dense and suffocating where the reader gets sucked into them like in a sink hole but you do not want to escape because you have been mesmerized by the poet. In “swivel” the author says:
the swivel chair. its screws are loose. it sits and stares. it
roominates. who is the lodger of this room. packed to
the ceiling with cupboards, tables, book shelves, cabinets,
ziggurats of books and papers lurching across a cluttered
carpet. a room spilling with ornaments, clothes, shoes,
luggage, icons, jewellery, pictures, photos, medicine,
documents and decorations, perfumed oils, paper clips,
machines and manuscripts and embarrassed emporium.
a reckless junkyard. is this an autobiography, does this
room own itself. the original owner shoved out the door.
a refusal to change. its peeling ceiling, dusty carpet,
“the random” couch is the final section of apparently and it is explained on the back cover that the poems found here were ‘written while the poet was lounging on a sofa’. I was very surprised to find in this section a cliché in “turret” but what is a spot on a pristine text? Absolutely nothing. In this section, the mundane and the domestic shine as if polished with Mister Sheen. The reader will wonder more, reflect more and read words to savour slowly – relaxed on a couch.
Dr Beatriz Copello, is a former member of NSW Writers Centre Management Committee and writes poetry, reviews, fiction and plays. Beatriz’s poetry has also been published in literary journals such as Southerly, Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications. She has read her poetry at regional and international events and festivals.