|About the Book|
Contrivances consists of four constellations of poems. It is characteristic of John Wilkinsons writing that each poem can be read either as self-sufficient or as interdependent with other poems in its group. Readers of his earlier books willMoreContrivances consists of four constellations of poems. It is characteristic of John Wilkinsons writing that each poem can be read either as self-sufficient or as interdependent with other poems in its group. Readers of his earlier books will recognise the precise resolution of these poems at a point just short of the fully-revealed.In Saccades the routines of bureaucracy, commuting and consumption invade the body and psyche. The poems in this constellation interlock, engage in small local machineries, and mill unrelentingly, although spasms of malfunction permit moments of joy before self-righting functions reinstate the poems unnerving synchromesh.Signs of an Intruder consists of more informal, open and sensuously-responsive poems, although even the Tuscan landscape where several take place is invaded by forms of surveillance. The poems stretch and play between benign and malign surveillance, pleasure and regret. The Still-Piercing Airis the smallest group and the most conventional in its poetic procedures. Harmless parks and public amusements, flowers and water features, lines from Shakespeare - turn malevolent as the occupants of a consciousness forced into reflection through isolation. The final group, Case in Point, was described by Wilkinson in introducing a reading as neo-baroque flummery. This describes an elaborate diction and an element of Hispano-Catholic grotesquerie acknowledged in one of the poems as after Richard Crashaw.John Wilkinsons poems are intellectually ambitious, but this description of Contrivances does not convey how directly involving they can be. This may be due in part to a unusual cadence which is at once absolutely urgent and reflexively hanging. Contrivances may be his most demanding book, but it has much to offer the unfamiliar reader.