In the first chapter (Or so we say – 21 propositions) of Simon Critchley’ s Things Merely Are, Proposition four states:
*“What then are poets for? In a time of dearth, they resist the pressure of reality, they press back against this oppressiveness with the power of imagination, producing felt variations in the appearance of things. Poetry enables us to feel differently, to see differently. It leavens a leaden time. This is poetry’s nobility, which is also a violence, an imaginative violence from within that protects us from the violence from without – violence against violence, then.”
I was having trouble trying to find the key to writing about this collection of poetry until reading the quote above, in the same book Critchley writes that “poetry reorders the order we find in things. It gives us things as they are, but beyond us”. He goes on to state that poetry give us an idea of order.
This makes sense as Stone creates his verse from the flotsam and jetsam of culture, from scraps of film and other poetics, crafting his language into works that, at the surface, shine like some glitter ball. It states on the inside cover that the School of Forgery, postulates the poem “as knock-off, as reclaimed scrap, and most of all as through-and-through fabrication” . This chimes with the idea of poet as artificer of the world using their imagination to contrive a reality, to reorder the order found in things. The poet finds the words that allow us to see life as it is, anew & transfigured. It also states in the introduction that the School of Forgery principal teachings concern the volatile relationship between fakery and invention of which we all are alumni as is…
“the bandit boiled alive in a cauldron of oil. So are the perpetrators of hoaxes, the writers of pornographic Dōjinshi*, counterfeiters in love with their teachers and teens who dress up as birds to fight tyranny. Its professors proliferate. Its graduates excel in every field. Its campus is the world.”
This is Jon Stone’s first full-length collection and you get the impression of someone with a great knowledge of both pop culture and the arts, an individual who is as equally inspired by the works of Kenji Miyazawa as he is Arthur Rimbaud & can cherry- pick from either. Yet beneath all that artifice, beneath the games there is a candour that resonates, a passion that hooks you in past the word-bothering puzzles and clever facade, past the glitter-ball and the wizard of Oz contrivances, you find the poet, obsessed with language, and who has the ability to use it, not just as poetic gesture but with a depth, a strangeness and a beauty that beguiles.
The School of Forgery.
We’re doing Ernst this term – corkboard,
collage, gouache on card, “beyond painting”.
But all I want from Mrs W is Mrs W.
I’ve practised for months her husband’s hand,
almost finished the letter he was too wooden
with shame to write himself when he was twenty.
I’ll slip the envelope’s blanched almond tongue
into the just-open mouth of her marking drawer,
listen for her slight cry when she comes to it,
sweet as juice-pearl unwinding from a glass’s rim,
huge, to me, as the eye of The Fugitive
or one of those petrified cities under moonlight.
Then to perfect his body, its itch and scrawl.
His lurch for the knur-and-spell of her knees.
His leer for her waist’s gay lavolt.
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
School of Forgery saunters into the treasure-filled territories between original and derivative, fabricated and found, real and imagined. Here, through the medium of translations, travesties, knock-offs, collages and impersonations, through wrong-footing, fluid forms and wild tales, the slipperiness of language and identity is revealed for what it is.
PBS Selectors' Comments These are poems with an edge, or rather, multiple sharp edges, poems as elaborate 'fabrications' challenging conventions of form and voice. This is an inspired, integrated debut, endlessly inventive, with a lively intertextuality and a wide frame of reference. The language is both playful and hard-wrought, words at high voltage, words as collector's items.
Its flavour in the nostrils a thundercloud smart
like seeing your crush on a superstud’s arm;
you’d have to be sturdier than durmast
oak to contain such a bastard stum
in your head’s barrel and not cry out drams
of tears. But if you, in your dilemma, durst
eat another spoonful, your throat’s drum
is often only half as stung, your heart’s mud
stirred to a soup and every untoward smut
on your tongue expunged in one broad strum,
leaving nothing – no points, no clear datums
from which to measure pain, no lukewarm dust
of hurt feelings, rags clinging to an absurd mast
or pins or crumbs or flakes of seed-hard must.
Jon Stone was born in Derby and currently lives in Whitechapel. He's the co-creator of pocket poetry journal Fuselit and micro-anthology publishers Sidekick Books. He was highly commended in the National Poetry Competition 2009, the same month his debut pamphlet, Scarecrows (Happenstance), was released.
Poetry International (Jon Stone)
* Dōjinshi (同人誌, often transliterated as doujinshi) is the Japanese term for self-published works, usually magazines, manga or novels. Dōjinshi are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry