Against the Hard Angle by Mat Robinson

Against the Hard AngleRobinson, Mat. Against the Hard Angle. Vernon: Greenboathouse Press, 2009.

Completed: 26 September 2010

Against the Hard Angle is another of the poetry books I acquired from Greenboathouse Press. It is a slim volume of poems.  As a Greenboathouse production it is well done.  The type is Spectrum and the paper was hand made in Vancouver.  The printing is excellent and the overall layout is attractive and ascetically pleasing.

From the web site:
It could be said of Matt Robinson’s Against the Hard Angle that truth bends around its object. The poems are direct but leave the reader with a sense that something is unspoken. Spoiled milk, congealed blood from an injury, a workbench. Just when you might think these poems are parochial, Robinson writes of a delay in an airport. There is a range of subject-matter and a range of experience in these poems. And in their understatement, Robinson’s poems feel contemporary. Objects are used to hint at human relationships, relationships perhaps difficult to discuss, haunted by an unspoken pessimism. Everything in here is more than it seems.

Well, of course they feel contemporary, they were written last year, duh.  Hyperbole of copy aside, I did enjoy the poems for the most part.  I would say that “Workbench” was my favourite:

“   each rediscovered tool
a recollection now
so much sess
concerned with its original utility.”

So the poem begins.  Lines like “this is pragmatism / varnished thick, with coat after coat / of sweat…” invoke the image of tools fulfilling their purpose.  The utility of a crafted object becomes an artifact of effort and beauty once it is varnished with the sweat of labour.  Dignity, honest work, creation, labour, art are all invoked by Robinson’s “Workbench”.

What I did not like is the absence of capitalization, the minimal-at times absence-of punctuation and the butchering of sentence structures.  Much of that kind of messing around strikes me as pretentiousness.  It may be chic post-modern but then post-modern is pretentious and pointless.  It’s a good way to ruin good writing.

Robinson is a Nova Scotia poet and is my 4th provincial poet.

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