FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST

Submissions Meet the Editor-in-Chief March 2016 Meet the Associate Editor July 2016 January 2012 Book Review - Lyn Lifshin's "Ballroom" March 2017 September 2016 May 2014 Book Review: Amy Holman's Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window July 2012 Book Review: Kit Kennedy Reviews Heller Levinson September 2012 Book Review - Patricia Carragon Reviews Leigh Harrison November 2012 January 2013 March 2013 Book Review - Dean Kostos "Rivering" May 2013 Book Review: Hochman Reviews Ormerod Summer Issue 2013 September 2013 McMaster Reviews Szporluk January 2014 July/August 2014 November 2014 Book Review: Wright Reviews Gardner Stern Reviews Katrinka Moore May 2015 Hochman Reviews Ross July 2015 Tocco Reviews Simone September 2015 Simone Reviews Cefola May 2016 Bledsoe Reviews Wallace November 2016 January 2017 May 2017 Wehrman Reviews Dhar July 2017 September 2017

 

 

 

 

CLOCKWISE CATS

By Alison Ross

(Fowlpox Press, 2013)

ISBN: 978-1-927593-26-4

Reviewer: Cindy Hochman

 

 

          Alison Ross, the indefatigable editor of the thought-provoking online literary journal Clockwise Cat, is one of the true contemporary heirs to the Surrealist tradition, with Beat leanings and a revolutionary spirit all her own. Ms. Ross speaks the language of the visual, flexing her muscles of the marvelous with all the pulse and thrum of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In her aptly titled chapbook, Clockwise Cats, Ms. Ross accomplishes an impressive feat—embedding her footprints firmly alongside those of Rimbaud and Baudelaire, while avoiding the sand trap of the derivative, and retaining all of what makes the poetry of the incongruous so compelling and, well, incongruous. She is also my heroine for proving that a book consisting of only nine poems can indeed be epic.

 

          Both in the editing of her journal and in her own fine work, this poet has always been on a mission—not only to present provocative and memorable mind-waves, which she does with fierce aplomb, but to spark a vital discourse which treads (not always so gingerly) over the turfs of both the poetical and political. In these poems, the titles of which alone are worth their weight, Ms. Ross cleverly employs the whimsical tools of Dada, but gives them an updated, technological, cultural, and sociological spin.

 

The Anachronistic Anarchist

 

The anachronistic anarchist

uses post-it notes

to remind herself

of her dinner date

with the sun.

But the sun

has a cold

and sends a rain check

that bounces

into a

reverse

black

hole.

 

 

The anachronistic anarchist

sends two gmails a day

to her former self

but they are flagged as spam

and the user is blocked

from

the

future

 

            It is clear that Ms. Ross, steeped deeply in multilateral dimensions of creativity, has fully embraced the sacred connection between poetry and art, especially as it pertains to the particular shades of the Surrealistic psyche. This is why it is wholly apropos that the ghost of Joan Miró shows up frequently within these poems; after all, Miró felt that “poetry and painting are the same.” In the poem “Miró’s scream,” Ross herself integrates the two genres with a colorful mural of words:

 

Miró’s scream became a new color of crayon . . .

 

Miró’s scream ripped open like a red yawn

and lullabies fluttered out like blue bats . . .

 

and oblivion unfurled like a new color of crayon.

 

            As a serious student of the surreal, Alison Ross is aware that titles of poems matter. On the surface, the title “Death is imminent and I’m still smiling” may strike the reader as blithe, with the poet’s tongue planted flippantly in her cheek, but there is no denying that it contains that hint of haunt and juxtaposition that are integral to the genus Surrealism, and the poem itself invokes the dreamlike freefall of time and space. Thankfully, this poem also contains an “umbrella of the imagination,” since, according to the poet, “it’s raining cats and clocks.”

 

          The grand finale of this chapbook is a poem that will be quite familiar to Ross’ fans and contributors, as it has long graced the first page of her webzine and, in fact, bears the same name as the journal itself. Here again, what may appear to be jocular (it has always reminded me of the iconic Felix the Cat pendulum clock) is, in essence, the ethos of this book: that, by eschewing the mundane, a cool cat can sometimes outwit eternity.

 

The clockwise cat

is wise to clocks

She knows their motive;

to tame the savage animal of time

 

          In her brief bio, Alison Ross humbly states that she “dabbles delicately in verse.” If I were writing this bio, I would revise it to say “she reverberates resolutely with resonant roars.”

 

 [This review originally appeared in Femmewise Cat. You can check out/download Alison's book at Fowfox Press. Click here and scroll down: http://fowlpox.tk/]