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Enemy Luck

Enemy Luck

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Author: Laughlin. Nicholas

In using an epigraph from the 18th century poet Christopher Smart, for years incarcerated in the madhouse, Nicholas Laughlin stakes his case for a poetics of radical innocence that includes the accidental,  the punning slip, the puzzlingly axiomatic.

Indeed, when a poem speaks of 'the unstable topography' of dreams, some readers may feel they have arrived at a more stable and recognisable place. This is a poetics by no means without Caribbean precedent. Like the brilliant Jamaican poet, Anthony McNeill with his 'mutants' (retained typos), for Laughlin 'errors are not accidents'. Enemy Luck is almost an encyclopaedia of ingenious devices and forms: cut-outs that hint at kidnapping threats; a poem that resembles the often mystifying chapter summaries of the 19th century novel (in which); visits to geographical territories mutated from a Wilson Harris fiction; found fragments; lengthier extracts from a variety of sources, from Strabo to Oliver Goldsmith, whose meaning is changed by their new contexts; Poundian translations where the original is absorbed into a characteristic Laughlin voice rather than being attempts to replicate the original; an index to some fugitive travel narrative that invites the reader to construct their own story; seemingly absurd narratives that make perfectly good sense; seemingly realistic narratives that mystify like an Escher building; a cast of personas from Cousin Hermes to King Q. Here is a collection that invites us to active reading, to picking up clues, to inserting ourselves into the dialogue between the poems.