Frog Hollow Press, 2019
Immediately one is struck by the unity of Simon Brown’s chapbook, this mud, a word, from Frog Hollow Press’s New Brunswick chapbook series, but it would be a mistake to consider this unity as singular or particular. Instead one is presented with a rather open text, allowing for multiple readings, with each reading encompassing the whole text. Where one reading explores the individual’s relationship to language, another explores a sense of place, or provides a criticism of capitalist notions of private property. The reading that will be explored here will be the positive reconstructivist th(read) the author has woven into this meditative tapeestry.
This book begins with the exclamation, “Hear me!” and one is quickly led to understand that it is an overflowing an affirmation (instead of a double negation, etc.) of the self in scism, where othering occurs. The speaker in the introductory phrases attempts to extricate themself through definition and lands on, “...myself and my own mud / for I am she -” before entering the first long sequence of the book.
The first long sequence is written in the first person plural and starts out with a “reach in the dark for something else...to take its form and lose its form, to lose its form and take it up again” and continues with this Deluezean (as opposed to a dialectic) progressive permutation that “crawls” forward as the speaker is disentangling themself through constant appending. After a series of revelations through “fog”, “shadows”, and the limitations of speach, the speaker accepts the scism as a whole and percieves “the old mistakes of separation.”
The next several pages contain, or rather sets free, a series of unanwerable questions in the shape of birds flying, most notable is the unasked question of when. This omission firmly places the speaker outside of time, ie the extra-temporal now, and by doing this the reader becomes complicit, an active participant as one attempts to answer the questions, experiencing the moment together in the all inclusive now, the whole situated in the undecidable, or infinitely calcutating.
The answers never come, or do they? The next section is a set of five more or less equal stanzas of exclamations. As one begins to corelate these phrases to the previous questions, one is confronted with the possibility that acceptance of the undecided is the “risk of being covered” and one must “remain thirsty and uncovered” while the “squinty eye will know itself”. It is this squinty, or focused, I that proceeds on through the next long sequence.
Speaking from a complete whole, as I, magnifies everything else, through acceptance of risking indecision into a revelatory, or reminiscent, actualization of things at hand. The permutations progress this time beginning with, “the sun is bright” and continues to examine things under the light as the subjective identfies itself with them. Them, the particular rendered in general, the “fading edge” between the terms, the “losing song I sing and lose, I sing and lose as long as I can.”
So there it is, a th(read) that has been teased from the book, a book that is thread bare, revealing as it conceals. This work has many threads to follow, even if imposed and unintended. What more could one ask from a book? The book provides many readers their own threads to pull, and wondering what tapestry Simon Brown is weaving next.
Russell Carisse lives with their family of people and animals in New Brunswick, Canada. They are preserving 100 acres of wood and wetlands, where they are building a handmade stone house, growing food, and scribbling. Russell’s work can be found or is forthcoming in The Paragon Journal, STILL: the Journal online, and their collection Nomography. Freedom is a priori and Art need always be free.